Enhancing Your Melatonin Production

Melatonin may be your tool for a better night’s rest which is important for health and beauty. Read my last blog about how lack of sleep can affect the skin. Melatonin is a hormone produced and secreted from your pineal gland located in the brain. This gland is so named because of its pine cone shape. Melatonin is also an antioxidant that can help protect your skin from UV induced damage.

Learn how to enhance your melatonin production for better skin.

Melatonin structure

Once thought to house the human soul, the pineal gland is quite mysterious. It produces and secretes melatonin in a cyclical pattern; increasing at night to promote sleep and decreasing during the day to promote wakefulness. Melatonin helps set our circadian rhythm and sleep patterns.

Melatonin may also have an effect on mood and be related to SAD (seasonal affective disorder), play a role in decreasing cancer risk and act as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. As we age, the pineal gland decreases in size and so decreases the amount of melatonin secreted.

pineal gland

So to improve sleep and balance mood, we want to increase our night time levels of melatonin and decrease our daytime levels of melatonin. There are ways to do this naturally.

Melatonin and Light Exposure.

Exposure to light will decrease melatonin levels. When melatonin decreases during the day, it helps melatonin levels increase at night. So try to increase your exposure to natural sunlight during the day as  much as possible, especially in the morning. Get out in the morning for a walk or to just sit on the patio if possible. If this is difficult to do during the winter months, consider sitting under a full-spectrum light box.

Also, decrease your exposure of bright light at night. This might mean not using a night light and dimming the lights in your living room as evening progresses. It might also mean taking a break from screen time for an hour or two before bedtime. Red or yellow lights interfere less with melatonin production so consider using these color lights if you need a night light. Staying up late in artificially lighted houses and sleeping in bedrooms continually invaded by stray light can rob us of the restorative powers of total darkness, most of which are mediated by melatonin.

Melatonin and Alcohol Intake.

Although its easy to have a glass of wine in the evening to help relax, alcohol intake may actually decrease nighttime melatonin levels and thus affect sleep patterns. Go easy on the alcohol if you have difficulty sleeping. Other drugs that may affect melatonin and cause sleep problems include ibuprofen, blood pressure medications, caffeine and estradiol.

Melatonin and Foods.

Many foods either contain melatonin or can otherwise boost melatonin levels. These include oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, cherries, squash, milk, and apples. Herbs that can elevate melatonin include maca, panax, schisandra, feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), and Huang-qin (Scutellaria baicalensis). On the  other spectrum, foods rich in sugar, caffeine, green tea, etc can contribute to insomnia.

Step away from electronics such as TV and computers before going to bed and spend a few moments in quiet. Enhancing your melatonin production may do more than just help your sleep. Increased melatonin may help many aspects of your life including mood, anxiety, headaches, and possibly reduce the risk for cancer.

Melatonin and Stress.

Recently, stress has been shown to decrease melatonin levels. This explains the link between stress and difficulty sleeping. It was also found that meditation can help to increase melatonin levels.

Melatonin and Skin Aging.

Melatonin has been found to play a role in skin health. In fact, melatonin can be synthsized in the skin as well as the pineal gland. It's specific role is still being uncovered, but it is a potent antioxidant that can protect skin cells from UV damage.

Melatonin plays an important role in overall health. Finding ways to help regulate your melatonin ups and downs may lead to healthier skin as well as overall improvements health.




Yawen Zeng, Jiazhen Yang, Juan Du, Xiaoying Pu, Xiaomen Yang, Shuming Yang, and Tao Yang. Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Curr Signal Transduct Ther. 2014 Dec; 9(3): 148–155.Published online 2014 Dec. doi: 10.2174/1574362410666150205165504 PMCID: PMC4440346

Russel J. Reiter, Dun-Xian Tan, Zhou Zhou, Maria Helena Coelho Cruz, Lorena Fuentes-Broto, Annia Galano. Phytomelatonin: Assisting Plants to Survive and Thrive. Molecules 2015, 20(4), 7396-7437; doi:10.3390/molecules20047396

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