We now know there’s an inverse relationship between our adrenal hormones and melatonin. As adrenal cortisol levels go up, melatonin levels go down. This is the reason why we can’t sleep when we’re under stress. In antiquity, this served as a biological safety mechanism.
For instance, if you were stressed by a predator a few times on the way to the watering hole, and then you spotted more large beasts in your territory, your body, in its innate intelligence, would want to prevent you from becoming prey yourself. In such cases, sleep and restoration become less important than surviving.
More aptly put—staying alive by remaining awake through the night is more valuable than sleeping and risking death.
When the body is trying to rest in this vigilant state, it never gets the restorative rest it needs because the survival chemicals, like cortisol, have switched on the survival genes. If the perceived stressor is not a saber tooth tiger, but instead your strained relationship with your ex spouse, whom you interact with daily, that chronic stress keeps the survival system activated.
Now this safety valve is no longer adaptive but maladaptive. This type of chronic stress alters typical levels of melatonin (and even serotonin) knocking the body out of homeostasis.
But if you lower the levels of cortisol, melatonin levels will increase.
Melatonin has many other interesting applications: promotes DNA repair and replication, stimulates free radical scavenging (anti-aging, antioxidant), increases REM sleep, activates a neuroprotective role in the brain, decreases the development of certain tumors, stops the excess secretion of cortisol in response to stress, heightens the immune response (cellular and metabolic), improves carbohydrate metabolism, lowers triglyceride levels, and inhibits atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
— Dr. Joe Dispenza
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