by Tony Gjokaj April 11, 2020 4 min read
Sleep deprivation is a problem worldwide. It is one of the more popular topics to search for on the Internet, and it makes sense: over 1/3rd of the U.S. population is sleep deprived.
While we have mentioned previously that sleep deprivation causes a plethora of problems (both physical and mental), we wanted to dive into a hormone & a neurotransmitter that may reinforce sleep: melatonin and serotonin.
Although melatonin is one of the more commonly known "sleep reinforcers", serotonin is one that keeps coming around as a result of scientific research.
Based on results from sleep research, scientists have theorized that both serotonin and melatonin have some sort of special connection in regards to sleep quality - whether directly, or indirectly.
In this article, let's discuss the two, and how to optimize both!
Melatonin is a hormone that our brain secretes in the evening: It primes our body for sleep.
Melatonin is influenced by our environment in the evenings after the sun has set. Individuals who understand this tend to reduce light exposure to prepare their bodies to unwind and sleep.
Reducing light exposure would also mean to eliminate electronics before bed - we're going prehistoric!
Melatonin is also popular to take in the form of oral supplements to facilitate or improve sleep quality for many, including people with insomnia.
In knowing how to optimize our melatonin levels, we may have the opportunity to improve our sleep quality.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, digestion, bone density, and possibly even sleep. In the past, there was a lot of conflicting evidence as to whether serotonin had benefits to sleep, alongside melatonin.
Recently, a study has shown that serotonin may in fact facilitate sleep in the evening. According to this study, scientists studied the serotonin system of zebrafish and mice and found that serotonin may influence sleep.
It has been theorized that sleep is influenced by the following:
Reinforcing this theory, scientists from this study believe that serotonin builds up sleep pressure. Although more information will be needed, we believe knowing how to optimize our serotonin levels will be a great opportunity for us to improve our sleep quality.
Now that we know that serotonin may indirectly influence sleep, and that melatonin influences sleep, let's dive into optimizing both to improve your sleep quality!
Recall that melatonin is produced in the evening as a result of light exposure. This means that any form of light suppresses melatonin synthesis, making it more difficult to sleep.
We all have a knack of scrolling through our social media feeds before bed, but we typically waste time and sleep poorer as a result of doing so!
To optimize melatonin levels, we typically recommend eliminating all light, even blue light from electronics in the evenings. If you find this difficult or impossible to do, consider using a computer program like F.lux, or your phone's "night shift" to eliminate the blue light electronics give off.
While it's still light, it is typically easier to fall asleep and get better quality sleep as a result. This is based off my experience and experiences of others.
In regards to supplementation: supplementing with melatonin has not shown that it has any negative responses with it, making it something great to have in your arsenal.
Our upcoming supplement, Drift, is a sleeping powerhouse: combining melatonin, and other nootropics to enhance sleep!
Serotonin is typically produced as a result of what we eat, and sunlight exposure. In regards to food, we recommend the following:
In regards to sunlight exposure: sunlight produces Vitamin D, which produces serotonin as a result. Make sure to get 15-20 minutes of sunlight exposure daily. I typically do this by waking up in the morning around 6 am-7 am and getting direct sunlight first thing in the morning. It primes my mood as well!
Remember that energy expenditure on the theory of "sleep pressure"? Exercise also regulates serotonin, which makes a lot of sense with the theory.
Anecdotally, I used to have insomnia when I was overweight. I contribute exercise to it being eliminated, as I slept like a baby afterwards.
In regards to supplementation: You are able to supplement with serotonin, however, we prefer supplementing with Vitamin D, as it is an essential micronutrient that most people are deprived of!
Melatonin and Serotonin: these two seem to have a special bond when it comes to overall wellbeing in us.
While we have mentioned optimizing morning and evenings through previous articles, we believe it's imperative to learn everything we can about optimizing our days. This will allow us to perform our best, and seize every opportunity life sends us.
Any questions, or other insights? Throw them in the comments below and let's discuss!
Thanks for reading, Reforged Legion!
Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.
by Tony Gjokaj September 17, 2021 5 min read
When you're depressed, even when you're not expending a lot of energy... you don't feel like you have any energy to spare to begin with.
It can be aggravating to hear that you need to work out to boost your endorphins, (or whatever your friends say to you).
In reality, they aren't wrong... but how can you exercise if you can't even get out of bed?
Is there something wrong with us?
Absolutely not. This happens with depression.
The thing with depression is that your whole body may feel like it is against you... and it's very frustrating.
I've been there.
But I was forced to work out once I committed to it because of an accountability partner I had.
In this post, we are going to go over some ways that may help you get off the couch when your mind & body are against you.
by Tony Gjokaj September 13, 2021 2 min read
Hydration is paramount to your health and wellbeing.
When I worked my previous management job, I ran three rental car branches simultaneously at a time where one of the other managers was gone for over a month.
I would try to get my water in regularly, but the locations were incredibly busy. You would always find me at the front desk with customers swarming in.
This played a large part in my stress and I never knew it did until I found a way to actually get drink more water.
In this short post, we are going to go over why hydration is essential for mental health.
Let's dive in!
by Tony Gjokaj September 08, 2021 3 min read
When I was overweight, I was inactive, depressed, and had insomnia.
I would isolate myself from social interaction, which led me down a dark path where I contemplated suicide.
Eventually, fitness was my salvation, as physical activity led to me sleeping better, eating better, feeling better, and thinking better.
Prior to exercise, I was stuck in what was deemed an Inactivity Trap.
So in this post, we are going to go over an article that was written in 2009 with the same name, called "The Inactivity Trap". This article included studies that supported their claims from a psychological standpoint which intrigued me as well.
So let's dive into what the Inactivity Trap is.
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