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What is Hormonal?

It would neither be wrong nor an overstatement when we say that the hormonal interplay within our body practically controls our life including the way we eat, live, think and sleep.

In other words, a slight hormonal imbalance can not only throw our mind and body completely off gear but can open up doors for a vast number of diseases to enter our system.

For instance, have you ever wondered which of the many hormones, which are produced in the body, is responsible for our sleep, or for that matter our energy and level of alertness?

Why is our sleep disturbed when the lights are on?
If we got more information in these matters, then it would be possible not only to correct the hormonal balance in the body, but also promote the production of hormones, which are responsible for keeping us awake, energetic and alert.

Since endocrinology or the study of hormones is a very complex matter, we would try to understand the whole interplay of hormones using as simple terminologies as possible.

Different hormones have different functions in the body and are produced consequently by different organs.

The Pineal Gland:
located in the center of the brain, is responsible for producing the sleep hormone melatonin.

The reason behind talking about this particular sleep hormone first is because unless you have a good sound sleep at night, you can never feel energetic and alert the next day, even if you have the best foods and do the best exercises.

Good Night Sleep:
The important point to note here is that the pineal gland can produce melatonin only when it is dark! So, when there is poor melatonin production, the result is disturbed sleep and there is hormonal imbalance.

There are cells placed on our skin called chromocytes, which carry the light wave information to the pineal gland, and at daybreak, blue light waves stimulate the chromocytes to switch off the pineal gland.

Again in the evening, the sunset blocks the blue rays and the pineal gland start to produce melatonin. This sleep hormone peaks at about 3 to 4 hours after dark and lasts 8 to 9 hours for adults and more in children. At dawn, the reduction in melatonin, stimulates the grand master of all glands, the hypothalamus to get into action.

The Hypothalamus:
is located deep inside the brain and is responsible for all the critical body functions including temperature, weight, libido, stress response, immune system and more. The hypothalamus needs glucose on waking up and triggers the adrenal glands to generate cortisol, which then produces blood sugar.

Cortisol in turn triggers the production of another hormone called dopamine, which is the transmitter of alertness and memory. Dopamine is at its peak in the afternoon. Another important hormone, which is the result from melatonin production in the morning, is called serotonin, which calms the nerves and controls our reflex actions. The more serotonin is produced during the day the more of melatonin in the night.

Having said so far, what are the ways we can make the situation optimal for the production of these hormones so that we not get good sound sleep but also remain alert and energetic during the day? Here are some tips:

Reduce television watching as the blue light from the screen shuts down melatonin production.

If you have to watch television or work at the computer, wear pink-tinted glasses to help in the production of melatonin.

Eat trytophan-rich foods in the evening which serotonin into melatonin. These include whole grains, nut butters, bananas, grapefruit, dates, figs, yogurt, turkey and tuna.

Sleep in complete darkness as it helps in the production of melatonin.

As it dawns, eat complex carbohydrates so that Melatonin is assisted in cascading into serotonin.

Get at least 20 minutes of exposure to the sun in the morning.

30-minutes of moderate exercise is needed early in the day.

Take nutritional supplements.

Thus if you can control adequate production of these critical hormones and balance it with the right diet and exercise, you are not only assured of good sleep but also a feeling of energy and positivism would envelop you through out the day.

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