Sleep - Melatonin and Sunlight
Melatonin is secreted at varying levels throughout the day and it helps to regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle.
If you are looking for the information on the following:
What makes us sleep?
If you were to ask 10 individuals this question you'd likely get a variety of answers.
Some people might say a comfortable bed and quiet surroundings are what
makes us sleep. Others would rationally explain that a nightcap is
needed. Sheer exhaustion, a full belly and someone to snuggle with are
some of the other opinions people have about what makes us sleep.
Interestingly, few people would give the correct answer to the question
which is actually the release of the hormone melatonin.
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Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal
gland located at the base of the brain. It is secreted at
varying levels throughout the day and it helps to regulate the body's
sleep-wake cycle. The pineal gland helps to regulate the body's
internal clocks, and helps keep the body in balance by regulating the
release of different hormones, neurotransmitters and chemicals that impact the body in many ways.
In fact, there is a high correlation between the release of melatonin
and the body's temperature, both of which are controlled by the body's circadian
rhythm. Melatonin levels and body temperature are both low
during the day and gradually increase as evening arrives. Both reach
their highest levels during nighttime sleep.
The onset of darkness stimulates the pineal gland into action which is
why melatonin levels remain low during daylight hours. During the day,
the melatonin levels are barely traceable. As darkness arrives, the
pineal gland starts releasing more melatonin into the bloodstream. As
more melatonin travels throughout the blood, the body starts getting
more and more tired. Blood pressure slows as the body prepares to fall
asleep. Melatonin levels continue to increase until they peak which
generally occurs around 3 or 4 a.m. Afterwards, as melatonin levels
slowly begin to subside, the body prepares to be awakened.
Anything that disrupts the normal release of melatonin can also disrupt
sleep patterns. The body knows that the presence of less melatonin
means that it should be alert and awake and ready for the day.
Increased melatonin production signals that it is time to go back to
sleep. Therefore, darkness any time of day can trigger the release of
melatonin and the changes that naturally take place with its release.
The weather can have a direct effect on the production of melatonin,
especially on overcast days or during the winter months with fewer
hours of sunlight. Working inside a windowless office that lacks
suitable artificial lighting can also cause problems for melatonin
production. Such scenarios can cause melatonin levels to remain higher
than normal during daytime, and may cause a person to feel less
energetic and drowsy when he otherwise should feel alert and be able to
concentrate. When more melatonin is released throughout the day, less
will be released during the night, and this imbalance can cause
insomnia and other sleeping disorders.
Light Therapy can help when
natural sunlight isn't available. However
the best way to keep melatonin levels balanced is by allowing natural
sunlight to penetrate your skin.
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Home - Sleep and Health - MELATONIN AND SLEEP
Page Updated 6:02 PM Wednesday 9/30/2015