Not registered yet?

How meditation boosts melatonin production

Tags: stress, antiaging

Melatonin is a hormone manufactured in the brain by the pineal gland, from the amino acid tryptophan. It has been called the “miracle drug from within”. It activates the immune system, acts as an extremely powerful antioxidant, regulates the circadian rhythms, and increases production of cells in bone marrow.

Melatonin is also believed to be essential to feelings of happiness and well-being. It’s interesting to note that the pineal gland corresponds to the “crown chakra”, believed to influence happiness.

Philosopher Rene Descartes called the pineal gland the “seat of the soul” and the release of melatonin appears to help deepen self-awareness. The pineal gland has also been called the “Third Eye”. This grain-of-rice sized gland is a very important one both physically and spiritually.

Melatonin is produced while the body is at rest - primarily during the night, as the pineal gland is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light. Like any other substance in the body, balance is critical. Over- or under-abundance of any substance will cause disease.

Low melatonin levels have been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, cancer and more. Interestingly, scientists have not yet found very many negative side-effects of abnormally high melatonin levels other than reproductive problems in both men (low sperm count) and women (menstrual irregularities). Melatonin also helps protect the body from the negative effects of radiation during cancer treatment.

A number of scientists are pointing to increased light exposure (absence of darkness at night) may inhibit melatonin production, leading to lower metabolic rates and resulting weight gain (Neuroendocrinology, 2011).

Melatonin supplementation has become popular with people who suffer from jet lag. However, these supplements may have detrimental side effects. The key, then, is to produce the hormone endogenously, meaning from one’s own pineal gland.

In 1995, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center’s Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program found that meditators had significantly higher melatonin levels than non-meditators.

They also found that when the test subjects did not mediate, their melatonin levels did not increase that night. The conclusion was that daily meditation, particularly before bedtime, increases melatonin production. Another study by Vincent Giampapa, MD, showed an astonishing average 98% increase in melatonin among study participants who meditated.

Meditation stimulates the pineal gland, although scientists are not clear on exactly how. What is known is that melatonin levels increase immediately after meditating - perhaps it is the fact that the eyes are closed (shutting out light), and/or the body’s “relaxation response”, that stimulates the pineal gland. In any case, you can increase your melatonin levels naturally and safely by meditating - and reap the benefits.