Serotonin: Why being happy can help you sleep
The Dreamers Company wants to help you get your best night’s sleep. Good sleep is the foundation of great health, so we designed the DreamTech Sleep Lens. Our sleep glasses block 99.9% of artificial blue and green light allowing your body to naturally produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
The phrase ‘The rich get richer’ applies to more than just your financial wealth. In fact, every decision we make in a day, no matter how small, will have some form of biochemical reaction to impact our overall well being. Serotonin is often referred to as the ‘Happy Hormone’ because of its role in regulating our mood but it also plays an important part in learning, sleeping, eating and digestion. So that decision to watch one more episode before bed could have more of an impact then you realise, especially if you’re not wearing your Dreamers
HOW DO I BOOST MY SEROTONIN?
Being serotonin-deficient can have a number of telling symptoms - You might be feeling anxious or low, irritable or aggressive, you may experience waves of nausea, or have powerful cravings for sweet or carbohydrate-heavy foods – and these symptoms can range from minor fluctuations to debilitating behaviours. But there are a number of different ways you can increase your serotonin levels naturally.
- Food: Serotonin is produced from tryptophan, an amino acid commonly found in protein rich foods. Salmon, chicken, turkey, eggs, spinach, milk, and nuts are all options of foods with ample tryptophan.
- Exercise: Exercise (particularly aerobic) helps release tryptophan into your blood, allowing the amino acid to reach your brain where it is converted into serotonin.
- Sunlight*: A study in Norway suggested that our serotonin levels are linked to the changing seasons, dropping in the light-scarce months of Winter, and rising in the middle of Summer. Morning sunlight helps kick start the brain's production of serotonin and can greatly impact our mood.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT MY SLEEP?
Both the sleep hormone melatonin and the happy hormone serotonin are produced in the very centre of the brain, an area called the pineal gland. When the sun is up the pineal gland takes the amino acid tryptophan and converts it into serotonin to release throughout the body. As the sun begins to set, all that serotonin which has compounded during the day, and the left-over tryptophan, is recycled and converted by the pineal gland into the sleep hormone melatonin. The more serotonin in your body the more melatonin can be produced.
This process also works in reverse. When our melatonin levels are high our brain is able to convert that into serotonin as the sun rises. Plainly, when we sleep well, we are more likely to be happy the next day, and when we have a good day, we are more likely to sleep well. In other words, the rich get richer.
There are small decisions we can make every day that can have huge implications on our overall well being, and just maybe the secret to happiness is as simple as just getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. We here at Dreamers believe we all need to reclaim our right to a full night of sleep.
Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis. 10.3390/nu8010056.
Seasonality is associated with anxiety and depression: the Hordaland health study
Photo credit: Matias Alonso Revelli