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Sleep and Rejuvenation

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By Author: Dr. Benjamin Friedrich • • April 1, 1995

You should awaken each morning fully rejuvenated. But what if sleeping is haphazard, light, and offers little deep relaxation! Premature aging will result.

One of the keys to life extension is the ability of the body to rest soundly for approximately eight hours a night. During this period of sleep, the body repairs itself both physiologically and psychologically. Indeed, sleep deprivation is believed to be one of the causes of premature aging.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reported earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that melatonin brings on sleep within five to six minutes.

Up until a decade or so ago, health researchers and medical practitioners believed that the pineal body, a tiny endocrine gland in the brain, was victim to evolution and served no purpose at all in the human body. Now, doctors know better. The pineal gland produces melatonin.

There is mounting evidence that aging and insure that the human body receives its needed rest. Reddish in color and shaped like a pine cone, the pineal body is located near the center of the brain. Linked to the eyes via the hypothalamus, the pineal gland is extremely sensitive to the light-dark cycle.

Dr. Richard J. Wurtman, professor of neuroscience at MIT, points out that earlier studies have associated high nighttime levels of melatonin with sleep, and showed that older individuals with chronic sleeplessness usually show much less melatonin in their bodies at night than do young people. They also age more quickly.

The catch, of course, is that as a person grows older, the pineal gland produces less and less melatonin. An 85-year-old produces only 5% of the melatonin of a 25-year-old, when secretion is at its greatest. So with increasing age, there is less melatonin to support body functions and insure a sound, restful, and rejuvenating sleep. Researchers believe it is these decreasing levels of melatonin that make sleep difficult as some people grow older.

A limited number of companies have made this powerful sleep-inducing hormone available to the public. Generally, the user should take about four to six mg one-half hour before sleep is desired. Many experts believe that melatonin is the most powerful and safe sleep-inducing substance now available. Sleep, when deep and relaxed, rejuvenates. Melatonin is a key hormone, available to consumers, for inducing this relaxed state.

Reprinted with permission from Journal of Longevity Research, Health Quest Publications, February 1995.

Editor's Note: Many melatonin products carry a warning against use by those under 25 years of age.

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