Animals too change their behaviors such as reproduction, hibernation, and migration based on the season. It is believed that animals perceive the change of seasons by the patterns of light and dark. The mechanism used to implement this behavior is by the secretion of Melatonin. When daylight hours grow shorter during the autumn months, melatonin production in animals automatically increases, helping to make the almost constant sleep of hibernation possible. When daylight hours increase during the spring, the pineal gland secretes less melatonin, triggering a new pattern of physical activity.
But in a highly industrialized nation the light bulb has expanded man’s day from 12 to 24 hours.
It is becoming apparent that more and more people are sleep deprived. And with that deprivation, comes not only a mental deficiency, but also a physical one.
The attempt to erase the night or to confine it to a small artificially defined window comes with a price.
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland. During the day the pineal is inactive. When the sun goes down and darkness occurs, the pineal is “turned on” and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood. That is why melatonin is sometimes called the “Dracula of hormones” – it only comes out in the dark.
In the morning, when we perceive that it is light, melatonin secretion ceases, which stimulates the production of other hormones and hence other body activities to begin. This orderly daily rhythm is of prime importance to our physical condition, intellectual capabilities, and emotional health.
The pineal gland and Melatonin are the body’s primary timekeepers imparting information about the time of day, season of the year, and phase of life to the brain and throughout the body. Resetting this Rhythm also means that the body is working overtime, making it more out of balance and less efficient. Thus, not only are the necessary chemicals imbalanced, but the body will age faster as it is forced to work for longer and longer hours without being able to restore itself.
Melatonin is believed to influence the internal processes so that all of the body’s systems work together, in coordination. Should this internal structure become disorganized in any way, the body becomes more susceptible to disease as sleep is not just a mental re-charger, but also important for the body as well. When a person sleeps, the body and mind are working just as hard as when the person is awake, correcting chemical imbalances, building immunity, assuring proper blood sugar levels for the next day, and maintaining memory.
For all you late night sleeper’s – If you are exposed to light till wee hours in the morning, your melatonin won’t rise to high enough levels to do its job. Light coming in from the window or from another room, or even a night-light can disrupt the production of melatonin.
Sleeping for 6 to 8 hours in complete darkness is important for good health and looking young.
Written by Sejal Vora