You may heard of it, and you may know that it can mess with your sleep, but do you know that serotonin is in fact?
Let’s explore more this chemical and see how it can affect how well you might sleep or not.
Serotonin is the chemical nerve cells produce. Its main role is to send signals between your nerve cells.
It’s mostly based in the digestive system, although it’s present in blood platelets and over your entire nervous system.
What is made of when it can communicate across your nerve cells?
Serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan and acid that must enter your body through your diet.
In fact, this amino acid is found in foods such as cheese, red meat, and nuts. Did you know that tryptophan deficiency can lead to lower serotonin levels?
As such, it can result in mood disorders, commonly in depression and anxiety.
It’s only fair to say that serotonin impacts every part of your body. In fact, serotonin affects every inch of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills.
Among experts, serotonin is called a natural mood stabilized because it helps with needed body functions, such as sleeping, eating, and digesting.
It can also help:
- Reduce depression
- Regulate anxiety
- Heal wounds
- Keep your bone healthy
Since serotonin is primarily found in the body’s stomach and intestines, it comes as no surprise that it helps control bowel movements and function.
In the brain, this important chemical regulates anxiety, happiness, and mood.
If serotonin is present in a low percentage then it leads to depression and can create arousal.
Did you know that when you feel nauseous your serotonin levels are in balance?
Production of serotonin rises to push out noxious or upsetting food more quickly in diarrhea.
Serotonin is also responsible for directly stimulating the parts of the brain that control sleep and waking.
Your sleep or wake depends on what area is stimulated and which serotonin receptor is used.
What about healing wounds? Blood platelets release serotonin to help heal wounds. Serotonin does this by creating super tiny arteries and helping form blood clots.
If you want healthy and strong bones, you should know that serotonin can help you with that, while it’s balanced.
On the other hand, high levels of serotonin in the bones can lead to osteoporosis, which makes the bones weaker.
Last, but not least, low levels of serotonin are linked with increased libido, while increased serotonin levels are associated with reduced libido.
Serotonin And Sleep
Scientists agree on one thing – serotonin plays a key role in both emotional stability and sleep patterns.
They still don’t know just how much serotonin is involved in the development of depression, but they do know that everything serotonin-related is more complex than it initially looked to be.
Plus, depression isn’t the only disorder linked to serotonin.
Recent studies testify that lack of serotonin is linked to disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia.
Everyday scientists and researchers discover something new on the link between serotonin and sleep. Some findings are heavily debated, while some are confirmed.
So far, the exact nature of serotonin’s role in sleep is yet to be defined, but so far it’s known that it regulates and directly influences when, how much, and how well you sleep.
However, it’s important to note that it’s not only up to serotonin to regulate these tasks because other neurotransmitters like dopamine also play a key role.
Melatonin, another hormone, is also critical for the proper functioning of your sleep cycle.
Serotonin and melatonin are linked – your body needs serotonin to create melatonin, so if there are too many or not enough of the neurotransmitter, it can affect your sleep pattern and quality of your sleep.
Your brain is a fantastic creation, and it has specific areas that control when you fall asleep, regulate your sleep patterns, and the quality of your sleep, and when you will wake up.
The parts of your brain that are responsible for regulating sleep also have serotonin receptors.
Serotonin And Mental Health
Serotonin is responsible for regulating your mood naturally.
Basically, when your serotonin levels are as they should be, in balance, you will always feel calmer, happier, more focused, less anxious or not anxious at all, and overall emotionally stable.
In fact, a study conducted in 2007 shows that people with depression have low levels of serotonin, which is why low levels of serotonin are always seen in people who suffer from anxiety and insomnia.
Still, minor and many disagreements about the role of serotonin happen among the top experts.
A 2016 animal study examined mice lacking serotonin autoreceptors that inhibited serotonin secretion.
Without these autoreceptors, the mice had higher levels of serotonin available in their brains.
The conclusion was that these mice experienced less anxiety and depression-related behaviors.
Serotonin Deficiency Symptoms
The human body is a perfect machine and as such it has all processes well-organized and structured. Even when you sleep your body continues working.
Did you know that while you sleep your body works so hard that you lose an extreme amount of calories?
So, while you are resting, your body does its best to prepare you for the following day and help you be stronger and better.
This is why any disbalance within your organism is easy to spot. Moreover, any low level of any chemical can be seen through specific symptoms.
When your body has low levels of serotonin you may experience memory problems and a low mood.
Memory loss and a low mood are frequent symptoms of depression – sciences are still holding back on linking low serotonin levels and depression.
However, according to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), when people use certain recreational drugs, such as ecstasy, the body releases large amounts of serotonin.
As expected, this can lead to serotonin depletion and a strong confusion, poor mood, and other various symptoms that can last for several days.
Animal studies have shown that these drugs may damage the nerves that contain serotonin – this can lead to long-lasting adverse effects.
How To Handle Serotonin Deficiency
Luckily, if you take certain steps you can increase your serotonin levels. You can do so by implementing medication and more natural options.
Doctors will often prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to treat depression.
This is the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant, and it doesn’t mean that you should this or any other medication without first talking to your doctor.
Mixing drugs is dangerous and can directly put you at risk of serotonin syndrome.
When it comes to natural serotonin boosters you can try the following:
- Being on a bright light as much as possible
- Use sunshine or light therapy as a remedy for managing seasonal depression
- Implement regular exercise
- Improve your diet
- Drink enough water throughout the day
- Try meditating
If you want to improve your serotonin levels via food, than you should incorporate this food into your plate:
The Bottom Line
Everything within the human body runs smoothly when it’s aligned. So, whenever something pops out it’s a clear sign that something is off balance.
If you feel like you are losing memory, and that your mood is oof beat, you might have to deal with parts that are responsible for those functions.
Therefore, you might check vitamin B12 and vitamin D first and see with your doctor what you can do with your serotonin levels further.