Although the study of hormones may sound like scientific
nonsense, they play a fascinating role in our lives, and are
particularly affected by sleep.
Hormones are a chemical messenger that transports a signal from
one cell to another, and the body is as regulated at night as it is
when we are awake. During the day, hormones control our eating,
drinking and breathing. Metabolism is often used as a good example
of hormone-effected reactions.
Sleep is both regulated by hormones and effects hormones, which is
why experts often link a lack of sleep with poor health.
Understanding why we have to sleep is often best explained by
understanding the role that sleep has on our hormones.
Melatonin is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy and makes us
feel awake. The body produces more melatonin when it becomes
darker, which is how both animals and humans regulate when it is
time to be awake and when it is time to be asleep.
Melatonin levels can be effected by our exposure to sunlight
throughout the day, or if we are exposed to bright lights at night.
Recent studies by the University of Maryland Medical Centre found
that poor vision, shift work and jet lag can interfere in a
person's melatonin cycle, which has adverse effects on how we
Researchers often recommend daylight exposure through exercise or
walking, which consequently helps us to get into a sleep pattern at
night. Similarly, making the bedroom into a 'sleep place', with a
good mattress and dark surroundings, will help boost the melatonin
levels in our body which allow for a good night's sleep.
If we don't get enough sleep, this can have an adverse effect on
how our hormones work through the day. Researchers at the
University of Chicago recently found that sleep deprivation was
linked to a reduced secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone.
Metabolic functions, such as processing and storing carbohydrates
or regulating hormone secretion, were found to be significantly
affected by a lack of sleep.
Posted by Elizabeth Mewes