Low melatonin levels may be the reason your Gut is growing bigger
Now more than ever, we are finding – the amount of quality sleep one gets contributes to more than expected. In this article, we discover how a lack of Melatonin, the hormone secreted from the pineal gland may contribute to an ever expanding waistline
The most dangerous fat is that which we wear on the abdomen. We have already discovered that visceral fat is not the pinchable subcutaneous fat- but the fat that is deposited deep within the walls of the abdominal cavity, blanketing vital organs. Belly fat, aka visceral fat, is undoubtedly one of the major saboteurs to the endocrine system and its corresponding hormones. Visceral fat is not only deposited onto the abdomens of the obese. It is found on those who consider themselves of a “normal weight”. Regardless of your personal body type, there is a positive correlation between low levels of melatonin secretion and increased visceral fat storage.
Factors that contribute to low melatonin levels :
1) The importance of undisrupted, deep sleep and modification of lifestyle factors.
2) Cortisol and stress management
3) Ageing and the decline of melatonin secretion
1. The importance of undisrupted, deep sleep and modification of lifestyle factors.
As covered in our Sleep Well Guide, our bodies are set to a certain biorhythm which often gets disrupted by a whole range of issues such as:
- Use of Stimulants and Medication
One must have an appreciation for the neurological connection between our brain and the systems of the body. As it has always been advised, the use of stimulants and certain medications (particularly later in the day) may be the reason your sleep is not restful or regenerative. There is a fine line when it comes to taking something to improve your productivity in the given moment, to taking something with a regularity that could change the overall receptiveness of the brain in the future. Balance is key to good health. This balance prerequisite applies to all systems of the body.
- Stress and Anxiety
- Blue Light and EMF Submissions
In an era where devices of all kinds emit blue light (stunting melatonin secretion), working into the night, or even playing your favourite games on your phone may cost you more than the money to top up your app.
- Use of Alcohol
This one is of particular interest, for many people unknowingly indulge in one, two – ” too many” drinks before bed in the hopes of a deep sleep. Alcohol is often used by people suffering from stress, anxiety and insomnia to help them sleep. Sadly, what they don’t know is that alcohol is potentially one of the worst sleep aids.
In order to benefit from regenerative sleep, one must enter the deeper stages of sleep. This stage is called the Delta wave stage. In the Delta wave of the sleep-wake cycle, human growth hormone is released in pulses. Since Growth Hormone is the main hormone that offers the body repair and regeneration, it is an absolute must to preserve its levels to the best of your ability.
Alcohol inhibits up to 75% of Growth Hormone’s release. The result of this= a staggering decline in repair and regeneration. If you are already 30 years old, Growth hormone levels have undoubtedly begun their decline. Alcohol increases the rate of this decline, manifesting overall hormonal depletion and premature ageing. One very threatening fact is its ability to inhibit up to 90% of melatonin’s release.
If you haven’t already read up on the benefits of melatonin – this might be a good time to become versed. Melatonin’s benefits are far reaching – way more than just sleep. Melatonin’s ability to fight off cancerous tumours is just one benefit you do not want to miss out on….
2. Cortisol and stress management
Melatonin levels are highest at night for relaxation and regenerative sleep, so it is very important to ensure you are getting the best benefit. One must also understand that if you do anything that will elevate cortisol, it will then suppress melatonin and stunt fat burning.
What elevates cortisol levels? A lot more than you may suspect. In fact just living our day to day lives, cortisol levels are continually being compromised. It has been said, that the only time we really get a break from heightened cortisol levels is when we sleep throughout the night, undisturbed. This means no eating or drinking during the night too. The longer one sleeps and puts off eating, the better for fat burning.
Cortisol is released by:
- Upon waking in the morning
- Eating Meals
- Skipping Meals
- Emotional stress
- Oxidative and Chemical Stress ie) Pesticides, Medications, Toxins (For many of us just eating)
- GI inflammation (Leaky Gut)
- Liver Problems
- Physical Stress / Injury
- Hormonal Imbalance
3. Ageing and the decline of melatonin secretion
Much like other hormones in the body, melatonin is another which its secretion decreases with age.
Melatonin and its role in visceral fat in menopause and postmenopausal women.
By the time a woman reaches menopause, already her natural growth hormone secretion is limited (unless of course, she has been using peptide supplements to control her growth hormone levels). Her ability to secrete melatonin is also diminished at this phase of her life.
2014 STUDY: 17 healthy women aged between 43-51 and perimenopausal vs 18 healthy postmenopausal women aged 58-71.
In this study, samples were taken at 20-minute intervals of the women’s serum melatonin starting from 9 pm thru till 9 am the following morning. They took samples at 1-hour intervals. Questionnaires were formulated and used to assess the women studied for depression, anxiety, insomnia and sleepiness, subjective sleep quality, quality of life and asked about their vasomotor symptoms. The results showed that the postmenopausal women had lower nighttime serum melatonin concentrations than the perimenopausal women studied. The melatonin secreted by the postmenopausal women tended to be of a shorter duration than the perimenopausal women.
Oestrogen deficiency is often blamed for postmenopausal women’s increased appetite and corresponding fat deposit. Observations from the following study indicate a reduced secretion of melatonin in menopausal women
STUDY: 90 women divided into three groups.
The control group: women without menstrual disorders.
The 2nd group was postmenopausal women who had not had a change in appetite nor weight gain.
The 3rd group was postmenopausal women who had experienced increased appetite and fat deposits.
In each patient, the researchers determined levels of serum melatonin via:
- levels of serum melatonin
- urine a 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s)
Comparing the levels to the control group, they noticed that the levels of melatonin and estradiol were much lower. These results indicated a significant effect of melatonin deficiency on the process of weight gain in postmenopausal women.
Conclusion: Melatonin deficiency plays a critical role in the weight gain experienced by postmenopausal women.