Chances are you have heard of melatonin, but how much do you know about it? This hormone is produced by your pineal gland — a gland in the middle of your brain that is about the size of a pea — as well as by the lining of the gut. Melatonin helps regulate your body’s sleep and wake cycles, affecting your alertness throughout the day and night. In fact, more melatonin is generated by your body at night; levels increase in the evening — around sunset — and drop in the morning, helping stabilize your body’s circadian rhythms. The amount produced depends on your “body clock” and the quantity of light you get each day.
While melatonin is known for its impact on sleep and wakefulness, it can also impact other aspects of health and wellness. This hard-working hormone can affect gut health, influence insulin sensitivity and metabolic rate, body weight, and even how you age.
For example, Melatonin may help prevent leaky gut syndrome and other conditions by helping maintain a healthy intestinal lining. Studies show that melatonin supplements can improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, by reducing abdominal pain and improving overall quality of life. There is some evidence that it may also help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease conditions.
For more information about the link between melatonin and your microbiome, check out the accompanying resource.