We can define obesity as a general excess of body fat that responds to a positive energy balance whose origin we can find in a multifactorial and complex network that is related to the physical, mental and social sphere of humans. But do you know the role of melatonin in dealing with obesity?
Most of those who suffer from obesity suffer from what is called chronodisruption, an internal imbalance, mainly caused by sleep problems, which means that they continue to accumulate body fat. Thus, it seems that improving sleep quality is fundamental, and melatonin plays an important role in this regard.
Sleep and obesity
Sleep is an important process for restoring cellular energy stores and restoring homeostasis in the central nervous system and other body tissues. Both tasks are important to ensure the correct function of the body, and therefore to maintain a sufficient body composition.
As such, most people who suffer from obesity go to bed late and do not get a good night’s sleep. This makes them tired during the day. As a consequence of lack of energy, they eat more to obtain energy, and move less to save energy.
The body needs energy to perform its vital functions. When it has not achieved enough through sleep, it causes us to eat more and move less.
At the same time, the condition of these people makes them eat worse. Lack of sleep generates a great deal of discomfort that the person ends up resolving with the most pleasant stimulus they feel: the combination of fat, salt and sugar. This combination makes sense for what we call “junk food”.
All of the above causes the person to be full of energy at the end of the day and wait longer before going to bed. This, in addition to all of the above, will increase the likelihood of resorting to junk food as a source of entertainment. This also solves the discomfort such as the boredom of everyone else sleeping.
The role of melatonin in managing obesity
Melatonin is a hormone that the body synthesizes with the main task of regulating the sleep-wake cycle. In other words, this hormone establishes when we sleep and when we are awake. It is regulated by light, so if it does not respond to natural light stimuli, it changes the whole inner function.
As we have stated in this article, most people who suffer from obesity have difficulty maintaining a good night’s sleep, and this not only indicates that their circadian rhythm has changed, but it also reinforces this change. This is why, in addition to improving sleep hygiene, melatonin supplementation becomes important.
In 2018, a group of Spanish researchers published a study conducted with animals in which they demonstrated how chronic supplementation with melatonin favored the conversion of white fat to beige adipose tissue – fat burning activity – and increased the thermogenic activity to brown fat. The results of this research are published in the Journal of Pineal Research .
Supplements will consist of taking 2 milligrams of melatonin in the form of tablets with extended release. The ideal time to take them will be between two and three hours before going to bed. However, this may vary depending on the person.
However, recent research has proven the effects of using higher doses. The results have been positive in doses of up to 100 milligrams, and exclude side effects. We see this in an article published in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology .
Regardless , a professional expert in the field should always guide melatonin supplements. A professional will also be able to vary the optimal dose, adjust the most appropriate time to take it, and evaluate possible interactions with other medications.
Finally, the role of melatonin in dealing with obesity is promising. However, a professional expert should always be responsible for melatonin supplementation.