Healthy Living

Study Focuses on Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Melatonin

Study Focuses on Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Melatonin

Study Focuses on Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Melatonin

While asleep, the human body produces a hormone called melatonin, which regulates how the body relaxes while in a deep sleep. However, a recent study has shown that melatonin production in the body can be affected by obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by the suspension of breathing. With OSA, the upper airway is blocked while the patient is asleep, which causes the patient to not have enough airflow in the body. Because of this, a patient tends to wake up repeatedly overnight, since their breathing is slowed or stopped. This disorder can be dangerous if left untreated. Due to the lack of oxygen and accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to future cardiac issues. The severity of this condition also depends on how much the airways are obstructed. 

While the body is in sleep mode it produces a hormone called melatonin, which is from the brain and regulates the stages of sleep. It is usually produced while the patient is in the fourth stage, and it has also been found to reduce the risk of tumors in breast cancer patents.

In Michigan State University, a study was conducted where the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and melatonin was discovered. It was found that during sleep, melatonin is produced and this could prevent the growth of breast cancer stem cells. From these stem cells, a particular kind of tumor called mammospheres was grown by the researchers.  It was observed that the size and number of mammospheres reduced by the addition of melatonin. The mammospheres were made in such a way that they were similar to the actual tumor cells of breast cancer. 

The brain has to first manufacture serotonin if it has to manufacture melatonin, which means that the amount of serotonin and melatonin is proportional to each other. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have a tough time getting a good night's sleep; however, the consequences may be fatal when OSA is combined with a lack of melatonin. Also, it's important to keep in mind, that obstructive sleep apnea can further affect melatonin production because it also affects the production of serotonin, which, as was mentioned before, is directly related to melatonin. 

When someone is stopped from going to the fourth stage of sleep by OSA, the production of melatonin is halted, which causes such a low level. Obstructive sleep apnea can make patients have adverse effects; however, there's still a lack of research on how these adverse effects can affect patients. So far, the only method of treatment to help reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea is by going on a CPAP machine, which has been shown to work significantly well for some patients.

Read on to learn more about the effect obstructive sleep apnea has on melatonin production.