Melatonin vs. serotonin: the science behind a good night’s sleep

Let us introduce you to the two hormones responsible for how well you sleep…

At Mammoth, we’re all about the science behind a good night’s sleep. We look closely at the different chemicals and hormones that regulate our bodies and determine whether or not we sleep well and feel rested. At the heart of any good night’s sleep is a healthy balance in hormones – and in particular, melatonin and serotonin. But what exactly are these hormones, and what do they do?

What are melatonin and serotonin?

Both melatonin and serotonin regulate various functions inside our body, such as appetite, mood and sleep.

Serotonin is what we would call a neurotransmitter. Simply put, this means that it’s responsible for sending messages between nerve cells and producing responses.

Melatonin, on the other hand, is a neurotransmitter-like substance. It plays an important role in regulating our circadian rhythm – our body clock – and this rhythm controls aspects of our body’s hormone release, temperature and sleeping pattern.


What is the difference between melatonin and serotonin?

Serotonin and melatonin are almost literally day and night in hormone terms. They perform opposite jobs and yet they must work in harmony to keep the body balanced.

Serotonin can be described as our body’s natural happiness drug. It’s a feel-good hormone that increases positivity and relaxation, as well as helping us feel all-around more energized. This energy is particularly important because we all need it to get us going in the morning and wash away the lethargy that would otherwise keep us in bed.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone of darkness, which is a lot less frightening than it sounds. The nickname refers to the fact that melatonin is produced in the pineal gland of the brain when you find yourself in a dark environment. As any sleep expert will tell you, it is incredibly important to kickstart the sleep cycle by turning off the lights and using black-out blinds or an eye mask in the bedroom. This is because the change in light causes messages to be sent from the eye to the brain telling it that more melatonin should be produced. The melatonin winds the body down to a more lethargic and sleep-ready state.

Without melatonin, it would be impossible to achieve relaxed, restful sleep and so the body would not be able to go through the restorative processes that typically take place in bed.

So what does this mean in terms of sleep?

Your levels of melatonin are boosted when it’s dark, whereas serotonin levels increase in sunshine and light environments. In short, melatonin helps you get to sleep and serotonin helps you feel awake when you get up the next day.

A lack of melatonin can cause sleeplessness and even insomnia, whereas a deficiency in serotonin can result in feelings of depression and lethargy.

How can you put melatonin and serotonin to use and get a good night’s sleep?

The easiest way to use these hormones to get a good night’s sleep is to increase your melatonin levels at night and boost your serotonin levels the next morning.

And how do you do this? It’s easier than you might think. To boost your melatonin at night, just dim the lights in the evening and avoid the bright screen of a television, smartphone or laptop for a while before bed. Meditation is also considered to be a good pre-bedtime activity to help you wind down.

And the next day it’s all about letting in the light. Boost your serotonin levels by opening the curtains and letting in as much sunlight as possible. Better yet, get outside into the open air.

You can also use food to boost your melatonin and serotonin levels. Cherries are rich in melatonin, whilst bananas, oatmeal, and milk boost melatonin production. Lots of serotonin rich foods are also high in protein, such as eggs, chicken, nuts and seeds. This will give you the energy you need to tackle the day ahead.

Want to do more to boost the quality of your sleep. Then why not explore the Performance range today – clinically proven to enhance sleep?