Thomas DeLauer breaks down the science behind the long-term negative effects of Melatonin and how to get the most out of your sleep on the latest #ScienceSaturday
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Transcript by Rev.com
- By now we all know the importance of sleep, and it's pushed on us so much, that I think a lot of times we feel like we have to do whatever it takes to get to sleep. And sometimes that means utilizing things like melatonin or other kind of supplements that help you fall asleep faster. But in this video, I wanna help you understand what's truly happening inside your body, so you can fall asleep better without having to use exogenous hormones. So let's get into the science. So let's talk about what's actually happening within the body.
First off, melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone. So whenever the sun starts to go down, the temperature starts to cool, generally speaking, you produce melatonin and it induces sleep. It induces your brain to go into the right waves so then you start getting relaxed, and start falling asleep. So of course, in traditional nature, as soon as we start to see something that works to help us fall asleep, most companies wanna bottle it, and sell it to ya. So that's exactly what's going on with melatonin. We're looking at a supplement that still is a hormone. A hormone that is triggering us to fall asleep.
So that's exactly what melatonin is but let's talk about what's actually happening inside your body a little bit more. You see there's a lot of evidence that's now helping us understand that melatonin could have some long term effects in a negative way on our sleep. And we also have to understand that melatonin is a hormone that is only available over the counter, in the United States. Other places in the world don't even allow you to take melatonin. And if you can get your hands on it, it's usually through a bunch of different loop holes in the first place. So obviously that's something to be a little bit concerned about in the first place. And we're talking about a hormone that's pretty tightly regulated. So what we have to look at is what happens within the body.
First off is a negative feedback loop. You see what a negative feedback loop is, is when the body starts to see something coming in from an exogenous source, so it slows down the natural production of it. See within our brain, we have a specific region, known as the suprachiasmatic nuclei. The suprachiasmatic nuclei has a bunch of neurons, tens of thousands of neurons on the left and the right hemispheres of what's called the hypothalamus portion of the brain. And these neurons send signals back and forth to what's called the pineal gland. So this is a cycle right then and there. But what happens, is inside these neurons, we have receptors for melatonin. And up until recently, we didn't even know that these receptors existed, but now that we know they exist, we know that melatonin has a specific cycle, where it goes from the suprachiasmatic nuclei, bounces back to the pineal gland, and back to the suprachiasmatic nuclei.
So what happens is if we inject a bunch of melatonin into the equation by taking a supplement, we are having a huge surge of it and we're essentially burning out those receptors, or we're at least convincing those receptors that we have enough melatonin naturally that we don't need to be producing it anymore. Basically, you're becoming dependent on it. But this negative feedback loop, this cycle that we put ourselves through in a negative way by adding in exogenous melatonin, does a lot more than just slow down melatonin production naturally, it throws off a lot of different hormones, and I'll get to that in just a moment. So keeping this in mind, let's look at the traditional dosing structure of melatonin.
You see, for natural melatonin, usually our bodies are producing about a quarter milligram, okay? That's all we really need to really instigate sleep. We don't need much. Well most melatonin supplements are about three milligrams. So you're talking 10 times or more the amount of melatonin that you truly need. So not only are you disrupting the cycle, but you're adding a bunch to the mix, and when you have a bunch of melatonin in the system, you're gonna have higher plasma levels of melatonin, which takes longer for your body to clear out. Which is exactly why you end up having a hangover effect when you take melatonin. Which isn't exactly a fun way to feel but so many people get so used to taking melatonin on a regular basis, that they're used to that hangover effect, and they don't even know what life is like without it. And that takes weeks and weeks, sometimes even months to clear out of your system. So it may take an actual period of detoxing to actually get away from the melatonin hangover.
But here's what's funny, is that a 2013 study actually found that those that supplemented three milligrams of melatonin, on average, only fell asleep seven minutes faster and only stayed asleep about eight minutes longer. So really we're not looking at that big of a difference. So when you factor in the sense that you could be totally damaging your endocrine system when you're talking about that hormone cycle and that feedback loop, it's really not worth it. And there's actually some more evidence that's finding that melatonin can actually affect the libido as well, reducing the sperm count in men, and actually reducing the total number of ovulation cycles in women. So this is new science that's starting to come out and people are starting to dig a little bit deeper and researchers are spending a little bit more time understanding how melatonin affects other hormones within the body.
There's also a MIT study that took a look at melatonin and found that again, on average, there was about 10 times the amount that we would naturally produce, but they found there was a myriad of other hormonal cascading issues that would happen once melatonin was in the mix, and it didn't take very long to get there. So once melatonin was disrupting that hormonal cycle, and that neurotransmitter system, it was messing up a bunch of other ones. You see, our hormones are a finely tuned machine within our body. If we mess up one, we have to have a balance. We always have to have this homeostasis. It's just like saying if your testosterone levels reduce, then your estrogen levels might go high, and they need to reduce too. So you're constantly having this modulation effect. Same kinda thing with melatonin, same kinda thing with neurotransmitters. If you have one that's skyrocketing, then you have to have another one that's balancing it out somehow. So we really wanna be careful whenever we're messing with hormones. So all that being said, let's talk about some alternatives.
Okay, let's not just leave you high and dry, let's put you in a situation where you can make an educated decision on what's gonna help you fall asleep and stay asleep. So the first one I want to address is simple magnesium. See magnesium in and of itself, is a very calming mineral, it has a relaxation effect. Where as calcium for example is excitatory. So it actually triggers the nerves, it actually triggers the neurotransmitters to chill out a little bit. But one of the most interesting things about magnesium when it comes down to sleep, is it blocks cortisol in the brain. It doesn't block cortisol overall. We can still have those catecholamines going, we still have adrenaline, we still have epinephrine, all those things.
But what it's doing is blocking cortisol from hitting the brain, which could stop your brain from sending the different neurotransmitters that it needs to send, that keep you wired or keep you anxious. So it helps you fall asleep a little bit better. But it also helps produce more GABA, okay? GABA is known as Gamma-Aminobutyric acid and it's exactly what you want to have elevated when you're falling asleep. It's the opposite of glutamate. We have the glutamate system and the GABA system. When you first wake up in the morning and you're anxious and you're trying to get things going, usually you have a higher level of glutamate. You wanna have this nice balance and in the night time you want GABA levels to increase. Magnesium supports that, it's exactly what we're after.
Now the other thing that I really want to address that's awesome about magnesium, is the fact that it naturally, from an enzymatic side, supports the production of melatonin inside your body. That's what we really wanna do here. We wanna help your body's circadian rhythm, we wanna help the production of melatonin. We don't want to just take the shortcut and add the exogenous hormone. Now the next one I wanna talk about is theanine.
Theanine is something that can dramatically help you go to sleep, and simply because it acts again on that Gamma-Aminobutyric acid cycle. So it helps you produce more of the GABA and by doing so, it's put you into those alpha brain waves that you need to be in. Those alpha brain waves are the waves that you wanna be in when you fall asleep. If you're in different brain waves, it can be very, very difficult to truly get to sleep, or get to sleep the way that you need to be getting to sleep so that you can get into the right sleep cycle. So if you get the brain waves organized, we can fall asleep, we can stay asleep, we can get into a better rhythm.
Lastly, glycine. Now glycine's an interesting one because it decreases your subcutaneous temperature. So what that means is by decreasing that blood flow and temperature to the subcutaneous areas of the body, we actually have a cooling effect. And if you remember like I said in the beginning of this video, whenever we cool the body, we have an increase in melatonin. So that's probably the most powerful thing when it comes down to glycine, not to mention its effect on other neurotransmitters. If we can cool the body, we can sleep better. How many of you are the types of people that when the air conditioner's on, or when it's a little bit cooler in a room, you sleep better? Probably almost all of you. Simply because that's how the body works. It's our natural cycle to notice that when the sun goes down, it gets cooler. So melatonin levels go up, Gamma-Aminobutyric acid levels go up, and we relax, and we fall asleep.
So when it comes down to getting the best magnesium that's gonna absorb, and absorb over a sustain amount of time, you wanna make sure you're leaning on Jigsaw's Magnesium SRT. Utilizing di-magnesium malate that's gonna absorb in the right amount of time to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and help regulate those 300 enzymatic functions within the body. As always, Jigsaw, I will see you in the next video.