Scientists have spent years researching the relationship between melatonin and PMS, helping women to understand how this hormone can relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Understanding how this hormone works and how you can regulate your sleep and wake cycle while also reducing symptoms of PMS can go a long way in improving your overall well-being.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter. This hormone is primarily produced by the pea-sized pineal gland, located just above the middle of the brain. However, melatonin is also made in smaller amounts in other organs in the body.
Melatonin is best known for its role in supporting the body’s natural circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm regulates your sleep and wake cycles, prompting you to feel alert and full of energy in the morning and to become tired in the evening. The amount of melatonin increases in the evening and nighttime hours, sending the signal to your body that it is time to go to bed.
Conversely, the level of this hormone plummets in the morning so that your body can begin to wake up. The amount of melatonin that your body produces is largely dependent on the amount of light that you are exposed to each day and at what time. Individuals who experience disrupted sleep cycles also often have erratic levels of melatonin production.
Health Benefits Associated With Melatonin
In addition to the widely recognized sleep benefits of melatonin, there are a number of other health advantages that this hormone can provide. Because of its powerful antioxidant composition, melatonin can be instrumental in supporting immune function, improving heart health, boosting gut health and protecting against mental health disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, producing optimal amounts of melatonin may also help in the management of chronic pain, improve insulin function to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, help to prevent and treat migraines and support good eye health.
Relationship Between Melatonin and PMS
Many women understand too well the often debilitating effects of PMS. This common disorder, brought on by the menstrual cycle, can lead to feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability and increased tension in the body. PMS can also cause a cornucopia of physical maladies, including cramping, bloating, headaches and more.
In addition to the many emotional and physical symptoms of PMS, approximately 70 percent of women also report experiencing insomnia during this time of their menstrual cycle. This generally manifests in a difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Some women complain that the quality of their sleep is greatly disturbed when experiencing PMS, leading to fatigue and lack of energy throughout the day. This general tiredness, in turn, can contribute to a dangerous cycle of sadness and irritability.
Many studies have demonstrated how melatonin levels fluctuate during the different stages of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Without the proper melatonin levels, a woman is more likely to suffer from insomnia. This is because many women who suffer from PMS also experience a lower level of melatonin in the nighttime hours, disrupting their ability to catch some zzz’s.
This research has important implications for the treatment of specific PMS symptoms such as insomnia. By targeting the levels of melatonin specifically, women may be able to lessen the effects that their menstrual cycle has on their ability to get a good night’s sleep.
How to Boost Melatonin
Many people have found great success in regulating their melatonin levels through the use of supplements. A melatonin supplement is non-habit forming, helping you to regulate the sleep cycles so that you feel rested when you wake each morning.
While supplements are the most common way to boost melatonin levels, you can also focus on eating a diet that is rich in foods containing this hormone. Good choices include turkey, chicken, tart cherries, tomatoes, olives, pomegranates, asparagus, pineapple, bananas, oranges, grains, nuts and seeds.
Foods that are rich in the amino acid tryptophan have also been shown to support the body’s production and delivery of melatonin. These foods include turkey, eggs, salmon, tuna, chickpeas, oats, potatoes and bananas. Lastly, foods containing vitamin B6 also aid in the production of melatonin. This makes it important to eat plenty of avocados, grains, beans and lean meat.
Boosting your melatonin levels can have a profound impact on the presence and severity of PMS symptoms. You owe it to both your physical and mental health to take every step to alleviate these symptoms so that you sleep better and feel your best.