The deeper Gnupharma dives into diet and human function, the more we realize how very little we know about how we really work. What is that fast food cheeseburger or that glass of red wine really doing to you?
So let’s discuss sleep a little. Sleep is necessary for mammals and other life on the planet. Our bodies need to flip from an “active” phase to a “restful” phase in order for us to function metabolically. Our cells literally do different functions depending on fasting/fed and sleep/wake. So how does “sleep” work?
Several things happen when we get “sleepy”. The GABA central nervous system channel is used to create a “tired” effect. Serotonin levels drop in the brain which allows a “clear mind”. The pineal gland is stimulated by dimmer light and this stimulates melatonin. Melatonin then assists with the “falling asleep” process. Interrupting any of these processes would cause disruptions in sleep patterns. By the way, supplementing with melatonin WILL cause a disruption in that process in certain instances.
In a previous blog we have discussed the GABA channel and some strategies to use to assist with the sleep process. Here we will dive a little deeper into melatonin. Melatonin is an hormone which is produced from tryptophan. Only about 5% of tryptophan processing goes toward both serotonin and melatonin production.
Can external factors cause issues with the production of melatonin? It turns out, yes they can! If you have ever supplemented with melatonin, you may have run into an issue where it worked great for a while and then just stopped working. Interestingly, your body can “sense” how much melatonin it has access to and will stop producing it if it has an excess (https://www.healthline.com/health/melatonin-overdose). This is why melatonin supplementation is not advised. It can have a rebound effect and make it way harder to sleep.
Another thing that can interfere with melatonin is red wine. Red wine contains melatonin (https://www.cabi.org/nutrition/news/15726). Further, red wine is a source of resveratrol. Melatonin degradation is controlled by enzymes called CYP450 enzymes and reside in the liver. Resveratrol inhibits some of these enzymes further adding to the problem (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378427401004180?via%3Dihub). To summarize, wine contains both melatonin and resveratrol. Drinking significant levels of red wine would create a situation where melatonin production was reduced or shut down due to an excess of melatonin. This would result in an inability to achieve restful and wakeful sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping and are otherwise healthy, you might steer clear of these blends of red wine which had the highest levels of melatonin: Nebbiolo , Merlot, Cabernet Savignon, Sangiovese. Lowest levels were in Crotian red wines.