Melatonin and Diabetes: What's the Connection?
Melatonin is regarded by many as a sleep aid, something to take on nights when insomnia is keeping them from getting a good night's rest. But did you know the hormone also plays a key role in your body?
"Melatonin is important in regulating your body's clock," says Ronald Goldberg, MD, of the Diabetes Research Institute in Hollywood, Florida. "It works to keep the pancreas working efficiently." This essential hormone that controls your body's sleep-wake cycle doesn't only have to do with snoozing. Released from the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin regulates both seasonal and circadian rhythms. During the night, melatonin levels are high, and they drop lower during the day. (Insulin also has a nocturnal drop in the body, and some experts theorize that insulin levels may be under at least partial control by melatonin.)
A study in 2008 from the Imperial College in London found that in individuals with common variations in the gene for MT2, a receptor for melatonin, there's a slightly higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers have also discovered that those who work the night shift have a higher incidence of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. When volunteers' sleep cycle was repeatedly disrupted for several days, they actually developed temporary symptoms of diabetes, researchers found. "With sleep deprivation, there's definitely an increased risk of diabetes," says Spyros Mezitis, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "When there is disruption of sleep, and when people are simply getting less sleep, it is a problem." If you'd like one less risk factor for diabetes, getting sufficient sleep is a relatively easy goal to attain. "It's important to be thinking about sleep," Mezitis says.
Wondering whether you should start taking melatonin? Goldberg says it's not necessary.
Instead, focus on practicing good sleep hygiene. For starters, go to bed and get up at the same time every day-even on the weekends. Just these simple steps will help promote good sleep. Still not having a good night of shut-eye? Learn some relaxation techniques. Biofeedback and breathing exercises can help reduce bedtime anxiety. And a treatment known as sleep restriction can also be beneficial. With sleep restriction, the time you spend in bed is decreased. The partial sleep deprivation that results makes you more tired the following night. After your sleep starts to improve, your time in bed is gradually lengthened.
"Melatonin receptors in pancreatic islets: Good morning to a novel type 2 diabetes gene."
U.S. Natural Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. July 2009. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19377888
"Body clock receptor linked to diabetes." 31 January 2012. Ivanhoe Broadcast News. Diabetes Channel.
Insomnia. Treatment and drugs. The Mayo Clinic.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.