365 Ways #94–Dreaming of Health

#94–Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent damage to cells that can lead to cancer. Darkness contributes to its production while light inhibits it. Thus, the natural production of this hormone is tied to the circadian rhythms to which our bodies have evolved over thousands of years. Unfortunately, in this era of t.v.’s, computers and, of course, artificial light, many of us suffer from decreased melatonin levels. Additionally, overproduction of cortisol, an awakening hormone which prepares the body for fight or flight, further contributes to a dysfunctional 24hr rhythm.

Whereas our ancestors went to bed shortly after nightfall and rose at dawn, the majority of my clients complained when I first told them they needed to be asleep by 10:30. Their bodies had been entrained by stress and an excess of “light poisoning”, and their health and vitality were beginning to pay the price. The increased cancer rates of the modern world can be attributed to many sources, but dysfunctional sleep patters should be high on that list. For example, since melatonin lowers estrogen production in the ovaries, inhibited melatonin production can lead to increased estrogen levels and an increase in the risk of breast cancer. And that’s just one of many scenarios to explain why our health is quickly beginning to be something found only in our dreams.

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