Fix your Melatonin Cycle
There are strong indications, both from science and the documented experiences of hundreds of acne sufferers, that there is correlation between your melatonin cycle and acne.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound produced by the pineal gland of the brain. Melatonin levels fluctuate based on a daily cycle, regulating the circadian rhythms of several biological functions. During the day, the brain produces less melatonin and at night melatonin surges. Unfortunately, modern lifestyles usually destroy the melatonin cycle. When you are indoors, the body thinks it’s evening, so it produces more melatonin than it should to prepare for sleep. At night, a combination of too much light, not going to bed at a regular time, sleeping in past sunrise, and too much melatonin wasted during the day prevent the brain from producing a proper melatonin surge. New schools of thought suggest that a damaged melatonin cycle might cause illnesses including insomnia, depression, acne, cancer, and dementia. The biological functions that are triggered by circadian rhythms are thrown off and don’t function the way they should, leading to all types of problems. For example, many sufferers of carb malabsorption and fruit malabsorption are able to eat fruit and other carbs when they have been in bright sunlight for over an hour, but eating the same foods at night cause indigestion and acid reflux. This is an indication that the melatonin controlled biological rhythms allow different lifestyle choices at different times of day.
However, the point of this website isn’t to provide a detailed scientific analysis of something that isn’t fully understood by our scientists. We just want to provide a healthy, natural system for reducing (for many, eliminating) acne. Along the way, you might find yourself happier and healthier.
- Go to sleep at the same time every night, preferably around 10pm. This makes it easier for your body to figure out when it’s getting ready for sleep, so it can begin ramping up melatonin production at the right time.
- Sleep >8 hours in a completely and totally dark room. Any type of light (blinking light on a phone, computer, or smoke detector) can risk disrupting your melatonin cycle. Sleeping in a walk-in closet, placing aluminum foil on your windows, and installing blackout curtains or blinds are the quickest ways to achieve total darkness. Remember, though, that any light is too much light. We evolved to sleep in total darkness and wakeup at dawn. If you get up to get to bathroom in the middle of the light, try to do it with the lights off.
- Make sure that you are out and about as much as possible during the day. Your eyes need to see natural sunlight with no filters (sunglasses, prescription glasses, contact lenses, windows, can all block UVA and other spectrums of light). When the eyes see natural sunlight, the pineal glands in the brain suppress melatonin. No one is totally sure if this requires UVA, UVB, or visible light spectrums. You don’t want to be in the sun most of the time; sitting in the shade and looking into the sky is fine. Ideally, you will spend 10+ hours outside, however the system often works with just an hour in the mornings and an hour at noon. When you sit indoors, the light strength is so weak that your brain thinks that it is evening and begins preparing for sleep by producing melatonin. This all-day mild production of melatonin prevents the brain from producing the necessary spike when you sleep.
- If you can’t get outside enough during the day, buy lightbulbs that produce natural light (as opposed to the white light that typical bulbs produce) and set them up in your workspace. We have seen some indications that this might help the melatonin cycle, although we are still in the progress of fully testing this method.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants within 10-12 hours of when you go to bed. Basically, this means that you can drink caffeine first thing in the morning, but any time after that is likely to disrupt your sleep and melatonin cycle. If you can eliminate caffeine altogether, you will most likely notice an improvement in the quality of your skin.
- Depending on the time of year and latitude/longitude, get enough direct sunlight on your body to produce Vitamin D. I cover my face to avoid aging the skin there. Vitamin D deficiency is highly correlated with various cancers, and there are some indications that it is associated with acne although the mechanism is not fully understood. Does Vitamin D allow the body to better absorb zinc, produce melatonin, Vitamin B, or simply help on its own? We don’t know. If you can’t get in the sun, it’s an absolute must that you take a Vitamin D supplement.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol might help you fall asleep, but it disrupts the second half of your sleep cycle.
- At night, try to keep all the lights off in your house. Spend the last hour or two you are awake in the dimmest light you can function in. We are trying to emulate nature here. If you use a computer, turn the brightness all the way down. Consider wearing sunglasses around the house at night.