Sleep: The most underrated antioxidant

Deccan Chronicle.  | Dr. Pallavi Sule

Life, Health

Maintaining good sleep hygiene and sleep quality has many advantages

Representational image (Twitter)

Have you ever wondered about the role of sleep and a good circadian rhythm? Well, all this revolves around the hormone Melatonin. Setting up a circadian rhythm helps in the production of good amounts of melatonin hormone which, in turn, helps in reducing pigmentation, ageing and hair fall, among other issues.

This hormone is primarily secreted by the pineal gland which is known to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Usually, it is prescribed in the form of tablets to help people with jet lag and irregular work shifts to regulate their circadian cycle as a short-term treatment.

But the hormone is also known for its antioxidant benefits. We all are living in a very stressful environment and any kind of stress releases free oxygen radicals in the body, which damages our DNA, causing degenerative and autoimmune diseases. Melatonin serves as a potent antioxidant, presumptive anti-ageing substance and also an anti-cancer agent.

Therefore, maintaining good sleep hygiene and sleep quality has many advantages. The sleep-wake cycle governs two hormones cortisol and melatonin.

Experts estimate that 75 per cent of this hormone is released during sleep. It is released in stage three of the sleep cycle which is usually 1-1.5 hrs after one falls asleep. Sleep deprivation or altered cycles affects the release of this hormone. In children, it will affect their growth and health.

There is also a great relationship between sleep cycles and liver functions. Scientific studies suggest that most patients with advanced liver diseases have disturbed sleep patterns. The liver has its own clock for detoxification and regulation of hormones.

Disturbed sleep results in raised cortisol levels (stress levels) and vice-versa. This hampers the regulation of hormones by the liver which leads to a higher level of cortisol in the body during daytime, resulting in fatigue and drowsiness during the day and sleeplessness during night.

While many formulations are available in the market in the form of tablets and gels for topical application, we must not forget the most important factor in the production of the right amount of melatonin hormone in the body sleep.