Often, those with type 2 diabetes have sleeping problems. Therefore, the inevitable question comes: Is there a link between type 2 diabetes and poor sleep?
As a matter of fact, part of that sleep link might lie in melatonin. Melatonin is very similar to insulin. However, you can take it as a supplement.
Melatonin might help regulate sleeping patterns. But is it safe?
More About Melatonin
Insulin and melatonin are similar since both are hormones. Melatonin is made by the pineal gland found in the brain and on the other hand insulin is produced by the pancreas.
But the common thing is that issues with either hormone link to diabetes. Often the melatonin is low in people who have metabolic syndrome, a risk factor when it comes to type 2 diabetes.
Research on This Topic
According to studies nurses who worked at night had a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In fact, other people who work the night shift have the same issue. These studies were the reason why researchers began investigating this topic.
The researchers came to the discovery that disturbing the circadian rhythm, which is the reason for our need to be awake during the day and sleep during the night, lowers our serotonin and melatonin levels.
By studying rats, the researchers came to the discovery that this circadian rhythm is actually tied up with the production of insulin as well.
The Natural Circadian Rhythm
In young individuals who don’t have diabetes, the melatonin levels are actually higher at night, and the insulin levels are low. But, during the day the insulin is higher, and the melatonin is low. This is how our natural circadian rhythm works.
However, like the candles on the cake increase, the levels of melatonin are lower. One such fact is that older individuals don’t get proper sleep as well. It seems that melatonin impacts sleep, sleep impacts insulin and insulin impacts melatonin.
Is Melatonin Supplement the Solution?
Is it possible to treat our sleeping issues with one supplement? Melatonin supplement is usually given to individuals who have serious insomnia or suffer from jet lag.
So why not for those with diabetes? Well, this is already tested. It is found that individuals who took this supplement had a rise and harder control over their blood glucose levels. Moreover, the long-term effects of this supplement are not yet fully known.
Is There an Alternative?
Yes, the good news is that there is a natural way to increase melatonin. First, we can expose ourselves to sunlight each morning, at least for 15 minutes. This can help boost serotonin. Serotonin is a daytime hormone that converts into melatonin at night.
By starting with bright light in the morning, we will have the necessary melatonin at night. Moreover, we can exercise outdoors which will help boost our mood and serotonin as well.
In order to encourage the release of melatonin at night, we need to lower the lightning before our bedtime and get used to sleeping in the dark. This can help improve our sleep and also our control over blood glucose levels.
How to Increase Melatonin with Food
Melatonin is actually a product of serotonin metabolism. On the other hand, serotonin comes from the substance tryptophan.
The best way to get this substance is through food. If we consume tryptophan-rich foods, we will most likely improve the chances of making a sufficient amount of melatonin.
Tryptophan rich-foods are red meat, chicken, seafood, spinach, watercress, roasted pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and cheeses.
Foods that are most abundant in this substance are soy products, spirulina, and dried egg whites. Therefore, it shouldn’t be difficult to get a sufficient amount of tryptophan without taking supplements. If possible, it’s better to get it from foods than to take supplements.
Word of Caution
It’s important to consult a doctor before we decide to take melatonin supplements. Our doctor will help determine if there are any possible complications from taking this supplement.
They will take into account different factors, such as medical history and our type of diabetes.
According to ADA, i.e., the American Diabetes Association, the info on the proper dosage, drug interactions, effectiveness, and side effects for these kinds of supplements and medications are not yet well-understood.
Therefore, the best thing to do would be to seek alternative treatments for our sleeping problems.