Melatonin Secretion with Age

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Melatonin Secretion with Age

Like so many other bodily functions, melatonin secretion at night typically declines during middle age. In fact, older men and women who secrete the least melatonin overnight tend to have the most difficulty falling asleep. In addition, older men and women tend to become sleepier earlier in the evening and to awaken earlier in the morning, without changes in the cyclic timing of melatonin secretion – almost as if their brains have learned to anticipate the switching on and off of daylight.

A little manipulation of your melatonin cycle can go a long way toward restoring a more youthful sleep pattern. A number of gold standard, “randomized placebo-controlled” human clinical trials have shown that the consumption of small amounts of melatonin (0.3 mg to 5 mg) about one hour before bedtime can shorten the time it takes you to fall asleep, can increase the actual amount of time you sleep while also increasing the relative percentage of the time you spend in bed at night during which you are asleep, and reduce “morning after” daytime sleepiness.

The results of a study published recently in the Journal of Physiology demonstrate that even “normal” sleepers can enjoy an increased quality of sleep and awaken more refreshed following the consumption of 1.5 mg of melatonin before bedtime.3 In fact, many folks find that 1 mg of melatonin about a half hour before going to bed does the trick just fine.

Melatonin enhances normal sleep and may improve occasional sleeplessness. This nutrient also has other potentially beneficial effects in the human body. The latest research findings suggest that melatonin can extend maximum lifespan in mice by up to 15% – an effect called “geroprotection.” How does melatonin do this?

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Free Radical Theory of Aging

3. Rajaratnam SM, Middleton B, Stone BM, Arendt J, Dijk DJ. Melatonin advances the circadian timing of EEG sleep and directly facilitates sleep without altering its duration in extended sleep opportunities in humans. J Physiol 2004;561:339-351.

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