What is serotonin?
Serotonin is a messenger substance that provides our nervous system with important information. This messenger substance is converted into melatonin in our brain. Also known as the sleep hormone, this hormone is mainly formed in the dark and ensures that we can fall asleep easily. Your sleep-wake cycle is controlled in a very natural way. The antagonist of melatonin is the stress hormone cortisol. It is formed in the morning and ensures that we are efficient in the morning. The "wake-up hormone" serotonin is also involved in the waking-up process. This hormone has another positive side effect: it puts us in a good mood and it is therefore not without reason that it is called the happiness hormone. Serotonin is known to elevate our mood. But it has many more positive effects on the body. Among other things, it influences our wake-sleep rhythm and intestinal activity. However, an excess can also have a negative effect on the body. The same applies to everything: find a healthy middle ground and you will feel completely satisfied.
A balanced serotonin level is essential for your health and happiness.
Serotonin therefore plays an essential role in our general well-being and the wake-sleep rhythm. If you've ever had trouble falling asleep, you know how grueling it can be and how lethargic you feel the next day. Both your physical and your mental performance suffer significantly from poor sleep. It is therefore all the more important that you ensure a constant serotonin level.
During sleep, your body regenerates and processes all the stimuli that are supplied to it during the day. Newly gained impressions are stored in your long-term memory; at the same time, the brain is freed from toxins. So you see, getting enough sleep is immensely important for health.
What role does serotonin play in the day-night rhythm?
As briefly mentioned in the introduction, serotonin, together with melatonin, plays an immensely important role in our day-night rhythm.
You can find everything about melatonin in our technical article.
Cortisol is also involved in these processes. All three are hormones that are produced in a pea-sized gland in our brain and are responsible for our internal clock. Daylight also plays a crucial role. Are you tired earlier in the evening in winter than in summer? This is quite normal and is related to natural daylight. As soon as it gets dark, will Melatonin produced and you get tired. On the other hand, if your room is brightly lit, melatonin production is reduced and you have trouble falling asleep. When it gets light again in the morning, the hormone is driven out by the stimulant hormone cortisol and you are ready for a new day. Serotonin is also primarily active during the day. The body's own happiness hormone raises our mood and is therefore a natural mood enhancer.
How does the body make serotonin?
Serotonin is present in our nervous system as well as in the blood platelets and numerous cells of the gastrointestinal tract. The hormone is formed from an amino acid that only enters the body through food or dietary supplements.
There are also things you can do yourself so that the serotonin concentration is constant and you feel balanced. For example, exercise is a great way to prevent serotonin deficiency. During physical activity, numerous messenger substances are released, including the happiness hormone. It doesn't matter which sport you choose: the main thing is that you move for at least 20 minutes. Researchers have found that a 20-minute workout is enough to lift your mood for the next 12 hours. During physical activity, serotonin has another positive side effect: your pain sensation is reduced, so that you are motivated to keep going.
It is well known that massages are good for body and soul. But did you know that these caresses also ensure that serotonin is released and at the same time the stress hormone cortisol is contained? So it's no wonder that you feel reborn and balanced after an extensive massage.
Very important against a serotonin deficiency: Try to get as much sunlight as possible. There is actually a lot of truth to the notorious winter blues. If our body doesn't get enough daylight, we feel drained and depressed. You probably feel that you are often in a better mood in summer than in winter. An Australian study even proves that the serotonin level in the body is higher on sunny days than on cloudy weather. To imitate sunlight, you can get various tools such as a daylight lamp.
Last but not least, nutrition should not go unmentioned. It should be known that this should be as healthy and balanced as possible. However, there are even some foods that can naturally raise your serotonin levels. Nuts, bananas, grapes, plums and even dark chocolate have a positive effect on your serotonin levels. You need to know that serotonin is made in the brain from the essential amino acid L-tryptophan.
L-Tryptophan must be supplied to the body through food. If you can't eat the foods mentioned above in sufficient form, just grab them L-Tryptophan in the form of food supplements. There L-Tryptophan is available in capsule form, for example. Of course, it is better if you take the amino acid as a precursor to serotonin through food.
You can find everything about L-tryptophan in our technical article.
A lot of it is contained in numerous protein-containing foods. How much of the amino acid you have to take in daily depends on your body weight. The rule of thumb is: 5mg L-Tryptophan per kilogram of body weight it should be per day. With a weight of 70kg that would be 350mg daily. Due to the relatively high natural occurrence in food, this need can be easily met.
How does the happiness hormone serotonin work?
Serotonin is involved in a variety of processes in our body. Among other things, your body temperature, your appetite, your mood, your pain assessment and above all the wake-sleep rhythm are influenced. The substance also plays an important role in blood clotting.
Do you often feel tired and exhausted or even depressed?
You can change that yourself, because serotonin is a natural mood enhancer. Just try to stimulate the serotonin production in your body in a natural way and you will see how the happiness hormone unfolds its effect. As a mood enhancer, serotonin can keep you feeling happy and content. People who suffer from depression usually have low serotonin levels. You will be prescribed so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
What are the signs of a possible serotonin imbalance?
In some cases it may be necessary for you to have your doctor determine your serotonin levels. For example, if you have symptoms such as watery diarrhea, tachycardia or cramped airways, this can indicate an excess of the hormone. The serotonin value is usually determined indirectly via the breakdown product hydroxyindoleacetic acid, HIES for short. The normal value is 9.0 mg in 24 hours. If the value is more than 40.0 mg in 24 hours, the suspicion arises that a carcinoid syndrome is involved. Such a tumor is usually surgically removed. According to experts, too low a serotonin level can also be harmful and trigger diseases such as depression.