Everything you should know about melatonin

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Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in our body that plays an important role in the sleep-wake cycle. It is produced in the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain, and is closely linked to daylight. Melatonin is often referred to as the 'sleep hormone' as it is instrumental in regulating our sleep-wake cycle. It is also important to know that your body can also produce melatonin from L-tryptophan.

The role of melatonin in the body:
Melatonin has several important functions in the body:

  • Regulation of the sleep-wake cycle: melatonin is normally produced in the dark and signals to the body that it is time to sleep. In daylight, the concentration of melatonin decreases and we feel more awake.
  • Supporting the immune system: There is evidence that melatonin plays a role in strengthening the immune system, although no health claims can be made.
  • Antioxidant effect: Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce cell damage caused by free radicals.

Melatonin and sleep disorders:
People who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep are often looking for ways to increase their melatonin levels. It is important to note that melatonin supplements may not be available in their usual form in Switzerland, as they have to be custom-made.

Natural ways to increase melatonin levels:
There are also natural ways to increase melatonin levels without resorting to supplements:

  • Creating a dark sleep environment: a dark bedroom signals to the body that it's time to sleep and encourages melatonin production.
  • Avoiding screens before bedtime: The bluish light from smartphones and computers can interfere with melatonin production. Try to avoid screens for at least an hour before going to bed.
  • Regular bedtimes: A regular sleep-wake cycle can help regulate melatonin production.

Melatonin production:
Melatonin is mainly produced in the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain. This gland is extremely sensitive to light and reacts to changes in light intensity. At nightfall, the production of melatonin increases, signaling to our body that it is time to prepare for sleep.

The natural sleep-wake cycle:
The natural sleep-wake cycle is strongly linked to melatonin. During the night, melatonin levels rise, which makes us feel sleepy. In the morning, when it gets lighter, melatonin levels decrease and we become more alert. This cycle is controlled by the body's so-called "internal clock".

Melatonin and jet lag:
One of the best-known uses of melatonin supplements is to treat jet lag. When we travel to a different time zone, our sleep-wake cycle can become unbalanced as it is still tied to our home time zone. Melatonin can help ease this transition by adjusting the sleep-wake cycle to the new time zone.

Melatonin in food:
Melatonin is not only found in our bodies, but also in some foods. For example, cherries, especially sour cherries, naturally contain melatonin. Some people rely on eating these foods to naturally increase their melatonin levels.

Melatonin banned in Switzerland
In Switzerland, it is important to note that melatonin is banned as a dietary supplement. For this reason, many people are looking for alternatives to support their sleep. One popular option is to take L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted in the body into serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to mood and sleep. Serotonin, in turn, is converted to melatonin in the body.

Here are some reasons and benefits why L-tryptophan is considered the best alternative:
1. No ban as a dietary supplement: Unlike melatonin, L-tryptophan is available as a dietary supplement in Switzerland and can be taken without legal concerns.

2Precursor of serotonin: L-tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is of great importance for the regulation of mood and the sleep-wake cycle. Taking L-tryptophan can therefore help to increase the production of serotonin.

3. Support for better sleep: By increasing serotonin production, L-tryptophan can help to improve sleep. Serotonin is converted into melatonin in the body, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

4. Stress reduction: L-tryptophan can also help to reduce stress, as serotonin is known as the "happy hormone" and can have a positive effect on mood.

5. Support in coping with sleep problems: People who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can benefit from taking L-tryptophan as it can improve sleep quality.

6. Naturally occurring in food: L-tryptophan occurs naturally in many foods, such as poultry, dairy products, nuts and seeds. The diet can therefore be a natural source of L-tryptophan.

7. No known serious side effects: L-tryptophan is generally well tolerated and has no serious side effects when taken in appropriate amounts.

In Switzerland, L-tryptophan can therefore be a legal and practical alternative to melatonin, especially for people who want to support their sleep naturally.

Thanks to L-tryptophan, you have an easy way to increase your melatonin levels.

There are also natural ways to support melatonin production, such as creating a dark sleep environment and avoiding screens before bedtime. A regular sleep-wake cycle can also help regulate melatonin production.

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