Which hormone helps you sleep

Melatonin

The day-night rhythm

The pineal gland regulates the body's day-night rhythm through this release of melatonin. If light falls into the eye through the retina during the day, the release of the hormone into the blood is stopped: we wake up and awake.

In the evening, when there is no light, melatonin is released again from the stores into the blood and can develop its sleep-promoting effect throughout the body: We get tired.

Due to the different lighting conditions during the seasons, there is also an annual rhythm: In winter, melatonin is produced and released into the blood over a longer period of time than in summer.

A hormone with many functions

The hormone melatonin is found in all forms of life on earth. It is found in humans, animals, plants and even in unicellular and evolutionarily very old algae.

Melatonin is considered the "cop of all cops". It regulates the release of other important body hormones and controls many vital body functions. Since the hormone is also responsible for controlling the sleep-wake cycle, it is also used specifically to promote sleep.

At the beginning of the 1990s, the wave of melatonin enthusiasm that had appeared in the USA spilled over to Europe. Some resourceful scientists brought it to market as a drug. They praised it as a miracle cure against aging processes, cancer, sexual aversion - in short: as a modern fountain of youth.

Melatonin as a sleep aid

Only the effect of melatonin with difficulty falling asleep, for example due to jet lag (sleep disorders due to the time difference due to long flights) or shift work, withstood critical consideration.

In the case of nervous or stress-related problems falling asleep, it can also achieve good results, although the effectiveness varies from person to person.

Melatonin has also been approved as an active ingredient in pharmaceuticals in Germany since 2008 - but only for the short-term treatment of sleep disorders in patients over 55 years of age. It should also only be prescribed if it is not clear why the sleep disorders are occurring.

In 2019, a second preparation was approved that may only be prescribed for insomnia in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder or Smith-Magenis syndrome.