Sleep and Your Brain – have you ever wondered which part of your brain controls your sleep?
Most people believe that their sleep is controlled by melatonin production. And while melatonin is the primary nocturnal hormone, your hypothalamus controls your melatonin production. So ultimately, it is your hypothalamus that controls your circadian rhythm and day-night cycle, including sleep, and initiates melatonin production.
Your hypothalamus receives light messages from your skin and your eyes, and when it’s dark, it triggers your pineal gland to produce melatonin. At dawn, your hypothalamus perceives the drop in melatonin and induces dopamine production to wake you up. Hypothalamic dopamine turns off the production of prolactin, which is your other nocturnal hormone.
You have two sleep hormones:
Melatonin produced by the pineal gland, and Prolactin, produced by the pituitary gland. Both of which are under the control of the hypothalamus. Melatonin initiates sleep, and prolactin gets you into deep REM sleep to initiate proper immune functioning. Prolactin follows melatonin by about three hours, and lasts eight hours. So the later you go to sleep, the more likely high levels of prolactin will still be on board in the morning when you’re trying to wake up. Making you groggy.
Craving caffeine to wake up stimulates a cortisol surge, stimulating dopamine production by your hypothalamus, and shutting off prolactin production. I personally find it so amazing that one gland in your body, made up of both neurological and endocrine tissue, controls so many vital functions of your body, including sleep. And surprisingly, the hypothalamus it’s more or less ignored in medicine. While more and more research is being done on the hypothalamus, we have much to discover and appreciate about this unique gland in your brain.
If you want more information on sleep and your hypothalamus, I’d love for you to join me in our Hormone Support Group. which you can access through my free Hormone Reboot Training.