The Effect of Melatonin on Sleep
Sleep is a natural, recurring condition of the body and brain, characterized by lowered awareness, a marked alteration of somatic, mental and cognitive processes, decreased muscle activity and decreased interactions with the external environment during rapid eye movement sleep (REMS). The brainstem, the area of the brainstem that controls sleep, is relatively inactive during REM sleep and the pineal gland, which is located in the center of the brain, is mainly active during non-REM sleep. Sleep is required for several physiological and psychological processes including repair of cellular DNA, maintenance of energy homeostasis, the regulation of mood and behavior, and the integration of information processing systems. There are several interrelationships between sleep and functional imaging measures such as regional cerebral blood flow, perfusion imaging, neurocognitive assessments, neuroimaging, structural brain analysis, imaging of brain cells, sleep EEG, sleep behavior assessment, and resting metabolic rate.
Sleep is also required for the development of memories and regulating brain activity. People who get enough sleep to have better memory and improve their cognitive function. A recent study by colleagues at the University of Rochester revealed that sleep quality has an effect on cerebral blood flow. Those who got less sleep or poor quality had much less blood flow to the brain than those who got enough sleep and good quality. The result of this study showed that poor sleep results in the deformation of brain matter, the results of which are not clear. However, more research is needed to determine whether sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality results in the development of dementia and other brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
As people age, their ability to experience positive effects of sleep has decreased. In most cases, there is no real change in the sleeping pattern of individuals over the years, but this does not necessarily mean they do not get enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need about eight hours of good quality sleep each day to maintain their sleep-wake patterns. There are various factors that influence the sleep-wake cycle of an individual. One of these factors is the circadian rhythm in the body.
Circadian rhythms are the body temperature rhythms that occur around the day. They are influenced by the natural sleep/wake cycle, which results in the daily melatonin cycle. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it has been found that the amount of melatonin in the body can predict the amount of sleep you need.
As people age, the duration of melatonin in their bodies affects circadian rhythms in different ways. As the amount of melatonin in the body decreases, the person becomes more tired during the day. They also find it harder to wake up in the morning due to lack of sleep. These changes also affect the ability of people to perform physical activities.
The decline in the ability to have a good night’s sleep can be harmful in a lot of ways. People tend to be more tired throughout the day and thus performing physical activities like working on a computer or driving the car becomes difficult. A decrease in the body’s circadian clock also affects sleep drive and may hinder individuals from having a sound sleep.