Does Melatonin Decline As We Age?
|Does Melatonin Decline As We Age?||Darrell Miller||09/22/15|
September 22, 2015 01:00 AM
Author: Darrell Miller
Subject: Does Melatonin Decline As We Age?
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal glands. The circadian production of melatonin is tied to the day/night cycle. Light through the retina signals the pineal glands to suppress its production. Lack of light stimulation (at night) results to increased production of melatonin. The increased hormone production at night is associated with a good night’s sleep. According to a study, melatonin significantly reduces sleep latency and increases sleep efficiency. It has thus been used to treat insomnia.
Aging and Insomnia
Insomnia is commonplace among the elderly. As we age, sleep problems which include difficulty in falling asleep and maintaining the sleep are so rampant. This is so because melatonin production declines with age. With age comes the disruption of the circadian rhythms associated with the production of melatonin. To this end, melatonin supplements come handy to the elderly in maintaining a good night’s sleep.
Aging and Alzheimer's Disease
There is more to this hormone than a good night’s sleep and normal aging. There are evidences that melatonin suppresses Alzheimer’s disease. AD is the leading cause of dementia among individuals older than 65 years. Lack of sleep is a common symptom among AD patients and feels bad but sundowning (worsening of symptoms during evening hours) is worse. According to Netherlands Institute of Brain Research, the declining production of melatonin among the elderly not only affects the circadian rhythms but also enhances the development of Alzheimer.
Melatonin as an Antioxidant
Melatonin production starts to decline at age 60. This is the onset of diseases like AD which leads to increased production of free radicals in the brain. According to a review paper written in 2000, there is a lot of pathological changes among AD patients’ autopsied brains as a result of free radical activity. Melatonin carries antioxidant properties which fight the free radicals and protect the brain neurons.
Melatonin is a powerful hormone. Its function in sustaining optimal human health is crucial. New discoveries are being made on this versatile hormone. The fact that its production starts to decline at 60 only means that you need to use supplements and not fret over the onset of AD or insomnia. It is clear that besides being harmless and natural in treating insomnia, Melatonin is the most effective way of averting deleterious aging effects.