We think that you will agree:
Everyone has felt stressed or even anxious at some point in his or her life!
For some people, anxiety is brief and temporary. But for others, anxiety can be a chronic health condition that interferes with their ability to function daily.
The “sleep hormone” melatonin has shown the potential to RELIEVE many anxiety symptoms.
In this article, we’ll be going over the close relationship between melatonin, sleep, and anxiety.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin has alternatively been called both the “sleep hormone” and “darkness hormone.” It is a naturally occurring hormone synthesized by the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland deep in the center of the brain.
The pineal gland normally remains inactive during the daytime and becomes active during the nighttime. The production of melatonin is triggered by the body being in a dark environment. The “sleep hormone” is steadily released into the bloodstream, which helps you fall asleep.
Many studies have shown that melatonin benefits sleep in numerous ways:
- Induces feelings of drowsiness to help prepare you to sleep
- Makes it easier for you to fall asleep quicker
- Extends your total sleep duration
- Improves your overall sleep quality
- Boosts your daytime alertness
- Helps treat sleep issues related to jet lag or insomnia
During a normal night of sleep, blood levels of melatonin will remain heightened between the hours of 9 PM – 9 AM, for about 12 hours. As the morning and daylight come, the pineal gland becomes inactive and stops producing melatonin, reducing the levels of melatonin in the bloodstream. During the daytime, those levels are almost immeasurable in testing.
Now that we know what melatonin is:
What Is Anxiety?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5, contains a comprehensive list of diagnostic criteria for generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD:
- Excessive anxiety and worry, which is defined as feeling anxious about the possibility of, and expecting something bad to happen in the future, which:
1.1 You experience more often than not for a period of at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities, such as your academic/work performance.
- You find it difficult to control your worry.
- Your anxiety and worry are connected to at least 3 of the following 6 symptoms, with at least some of these symptoms have been present more often than not for the past 6 months:
3.1 Restlessness, feeling very nervous or excited before an important event, or being on edge
3.2 Being easily fatigued
3.3 You have difficulty with concentrating, or your mind going blank
3.4 Irritability or agitation
3.5 Muscle tension
3.6 Sleep disturbances, including difficulties with falling or staying asleep, or having restless, unsatisfying sleep
- Your anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in your social, occupational, and psychological functioning.
- Your anxiety and worry are not a result of the physiological effects of a substance, such as a drug that you may be abusing, or medication, or because of another medical condition.
- Your anxiety and worry are not better explained through another medical disorder including, but not limited to:
6.1 Anxiety or worry about getting panic attacks due to panic disorder
6.2 Negative evaluation in social anxiety disorder
6.3 Contamination or other obsessions related to obsessive-compulsive disorder
6.4 Separation from attachment figures in separation anxiety disorder
6.5 Reminders of traumatic events in posttraumatic stress disorder
You may be wondering: How common is anxiety?
There are 6.8 million adults in the U.S. who are affected by a generalized anxiety disorder, which amounts to 3.1% of the U.S. population. Only 43.2% of those affected are receiving treatment. Women have double the risk of being affected by generalized anxiety disorder as men do. It is important to note that there are other types of anxiety disorders besides generalized anxiety disorder, including:
- Panic Disorder
a. Affects 6 million adults, which amounts to 2.7% of the U.S. population
b. Women have double the risk of being affected by the panic disorder as men do
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
a. Affects 15 million adults, which amounts to 6.8% of the U.S. population
b. It usually starts around the age of 13 years old
c. In a survey done by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America in 2007, it was found that 36% of people affected by social anxiety disorder suffered from their symptoms for at least 10 years before they looked for treatment.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
a. Affects 2.2 million adults, which amounts to 1.0% of the U.S. population
b. The average age at which the symptoms first appear is 19 years old; 25% of cases occurred by age 14
c. One out of three affected adults first experienced the symptoms during their childhood
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
a. Affects 7.7 million adults, which amounts to 3.5% of the U.S. population
b. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
a. Affects more than 16.1 million adults, which amounts to 6.7% of the U.S. population aged 18 or older in a given year
b. Women are more likely to develop MDD than men.
c. Although it may develop at any age, the median age at which the symptoms first appear is 32.5 years old
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
a. It affects about 3.3 million adults, which amounts to about 1.5% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older in a given year
b. The average age at which the symptoms first appear is 31 years old
- Specific Phobias
a. Affect 19 million adults, which amounts to 8.7% of the U.S. population
b. Women have double the risk of being affected by specific phobias as men do
c. Symptoms usually first appear in childhood, with the average age being about 7 years old
Did you know that people can be affected by both anxiety and depression at the same time?
Nearly half of those who have been diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. For example, people who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder have also been diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder are closely related to anxiety disorders. Some people may have both disorders at the same time, as well as depression.
Astonishing, isn’t it?
Generally, according to the World Health Organization, 1 in every 13 people globally suffers from anxiety. The World Health Organization also reported that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders globally. Specific phobias, social anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder are the most common anxiety disorders.
Now that we’ve dived deep into anxiety, let’s look at:
The Connection Between Melatonin, Sleep, and Anxiety
It is interesting to note that sleep disturbances are one of the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Melatonin has been shown to be effective in treating these sleep disturbances. Indirectly, in this way, melatonin helps relieve your anxiety symptoms. Sleep deprivation has been demonstrated to induce anxiety-like behaviors in rats. One study published in the American Journal of Translational Research in 2017 examined the effects of melatonin on sleep deprivation-induced anxiety-like behaviors and tried to determine the possible mechanisms involved.
This study has shown strong evidence that melatonin supplementation is able to reduce sleep deprivation-induced anxiety-like behaviors. This is due to a combination of factors:
- The antioxidant and free radical scavenger properties of melatonin
- Melatonin’s role in regulating GABAergic and glutamatergic transmission in the amygdala
Melatonin as an Antioxidant
Melatonin may reverse the activation of the HPA axis due to stress. The HPA axis drives the body’s stress response to chronic stress and stimulates the production of cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Additionally, melatonin inhibits both spontaneous and stimulated HPA axis activity. As an antioxidant and free radical scavenger, melatonin helps prevent oxidative stress and damage in the central nervous system, which is particularly sensitive to this type of damage.
Oxidative stress also plays an important role in the HPA axis and the anxiety-like behaviors induced by sleep deprivation. In that way, the antioxidant and free radical scavenger properties of melatonin may produce an anxiolytic effect.
Melatonin’s Role in Regulating Amygdalar Neurotransmission
Anxiety-like behaviors may be caused by hyperexcitation, which could be due to increased excitatory transmission or reduced inhibitory transmission. Pathological anxiety is when the intensity, duration, and/or frequency of anxiety become so distressful and chronic that it interferes with a person’s ability to function. This type of anxiety is a result of an imbalance of excitation and inhibition of the neural circuits of the amygdala.
The cluster of neurons known as the amygdala is responsible for the processing of emotions including fear, which is closely connected to anxiety. Numerous studies have shown that melatonin interacts with GABA to induce a tranquilizing action, which means that the combination of the two reduces feelings of anxiety, fear, tension, and agitation.
For those of you who don’t know:
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is often used as a natural anxiety treatment. It counteracts and balances glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter.
Let’s take a closer look:
Melatonin supplementation has been shown to increase the levels of GABA in some brain regions. Additionally, chronic melatonin treatment has been demonstrated to increase GABA binding to inhibit neuronal activity. Melatonin affects GABA in many more ways, such as increasing GABA production and promoting the sleep-inducing effects of GABA. N-acetyl-5-metoxikynuramine, which is a product of the metabolism of melatonin, has been found to stimulate GABA-benzodiazepine receptors.
These receptors have been established in numerous clinical trials to be connected to the functional changes in the body that cause anxiety. This helps justify the anxiolytic and sedative effects of melatonin. It is important to promote the production and effects of GABA because research has suggested that there may be a trait-like abnormality in GABA neuronal function that contributes to the development of the panic disorder. More generally, disruptions to the metabolism of GABA may contribute to the functional changes in the human body that cause anxiety disorders.
Melatonin Supplementation in Stressful Situations
Most human research related to melatonin administration has to do with surgery. People usually feel stressed and anxious before they undergo surgery. They are usually given benzodiazepines and other such medications to reduce their anxiety symptoms, as well as induce sedation and amnesia. However, the use of such medications has the side effects of impairing cognitive and psychomotor functioning.
Liposomal Melatonin Supplements
If you are looking for ways to increase your melatonin blood levels, you should consider a melatonin supplement.
More specifically, you may want to do some research on Liposomal Melatonin Technology. Liposomal Technology uses micro-sized fluid-filled liposomes to protect and deliver nutrients directly into the cells and tissues of the body. These liposomes are very similar to human cells, which makes it easier for them to be transported within the body. As a result, nutrient absorption is greatly increased, and there is less intestinal discomfort than with using standard oral supplements.
Liposomal Melatonin Technology provides several different advantages, including:
- Micro-sized encapsulation that protects against the harsh acidity of the gastrointestinal tract
- Increased delivery to cells, tissues, and organs
- Higher absorption rates and bioavailability than other standard oral supplements
- Noninvasive compared to intravenous supplementation
- Lower doses provide the same effects as high-dose standard oral supplements
- Helps put nutrients to use by the body faster
- Prevents gastrointestinal distress usually experienced with standard oral supplements
Clearly, liposomal melatonin supplement deserves serious consideration as a potential sleep aid.
Melatonin May Help Relieve Many Anxiety Symptoms
Many trials and studies have shown that melatonin is equally as effective, if not more effective in treating preoperative anxiety than common anti-anxiety premeditates.
The antioxidant and free radical scavenger properties of melatonin produce anxiolytic effects.
Melatonin also increases GABA concentrations in certain brain regions, promotes the sleep-inducing effects of GABA, and increases GABA binding.
This is important because GABA is used as a natural anti-anxiety treatment.