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This Surprising Supplement May Affect Your Metabolism, New Study Suggests

Hint: It's related to sleep.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

For years we've been aware of a link between sleep and obesity. Now, there's growing evidence that taking a supplement of the sleep hormone, melatonin, may not only help you get a better night's rest, but may also deliver some added benefits related to your metabolism, weight, and appetite.

A new study published in the journal Chronobiology International analyzed past research that found an interruption in the body's circadian rhythm, or the sleep-wake cycle, was "associated with excessive food consumption" when it was caused by a lack of melatonin—the body's natural sleep hormone. To take these findings a step further, the researchers looked into whether taking a melatonin supplement could possibly help both sleep and appetite patterns cycle back into healthier, more natural rhythms.

Read on to see exactly what the research found about taking melatonin and the effect it can potentially have on your metabolism.

The study looked at how melatonin affects food intake.

Happy asian woman in big hat having meal with greek salad Horiatiki in restaurant. Greece cuisine concept
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The two researchers reviewed the findings from 15 past studies on healthy adults, rodents, and dogs that looked at how melatonin impacted eating patterns and appetite-related hormones.

Specifically, they looked at the intake of calories, macronutrients, cholesterol, grehlin (the hunger hormone), and leptin (the protein that helps to regulate your biological processes by telling your brain whether you're using food as energy in a normal, healthy way) and how melatonin affected each.

They found that melatonin may be therapeutic for metabolic disorders.

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The researchers found that overall, removing a melatonin supplement from the diet didn't have a huge impact on how much the participants ate. However, they did find that melatonin does seem to have some metabolic effects, stating that melatonin supplements "may be a potential therapeutic agent against endocrine-metabolic disorders."

Melatonin matters even more than we knew.

Mature woman taking melatonin supplement pill before bed
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This study may help crack open a significant new discovery about melatonin, according to Nicole Avena, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a visiting professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University.

As Avena tells Eat This, Not That!: "Of the studies that were reviewed, there seems to be a trend toward suggesting that the hormone melatonin could have additional endocrine-metabolic benefits beyond just helping people to fall asleep."

Avena adds that this study highlights the need for additional research that could help us "better understand the role that melatonin can possibly plan in metabolism, body weight, and appetite," she says.

RELATED: Things To Do Before Bed To Lose Weight

Plus, there's a demonstrated link between sleep and obesity.

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Plenty of evidence (such as this and this) point to links between poor sleep and higher chances of obesity. To this, Avena weighs in to share how this new study reinforces that theory: "There are studies suggesting that sleep and obesity are inversely related," she says. "'Short sleepers,' or those who don't sleep the recommended number of hours, are at greater risk for developing obesity. Melatonin certainly could play a role in this."

All in all, the current study definitely seems to provide more indication that quality sleep is an important player in proper metabolic function.

Healthy biological balance is the ultimate endgame.

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Whether it's ideal for you to take melatonin is a decision between you and your doctor… but getting a good night's sleep and great nutrition might make you feel better all around.

For more, make sure to check out the Sure Signs You're Becoming Obese, According To the CDC, and sign up for our newsletter for the daily nutrition news you need.

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at <em>Eat This, Not That!</em>, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more