Melatonin regulates Sleep and strengthens the immune system
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is a pea sized structure located at the center of the brain. The secretion of Melatonin occurs during the night in response to the darkness. It reaches a maximum level in the middle of the night, then decrease until the morning. The synthesis and putting into circulation of Melatonin are inhibited by the light: it is the hormone of the circadian rate/rhythm.
Depression in women during pregnancy is known to be associated with low birth weight and increased risk of premature birth. Maternal stress, such as the death of a loved one, lack of social support, or a difficult or abusive relationship, has also been shown to increase the risk of premature birth.
A new study by the University of Colorado shows that the longer people are awake during the time their biological clock is telling them to sleep the worse their sensitivity to insulin, which is a precursor to diabetes.
The study showed that a disruption, or circadian misalignment of a person's internal clock induced by five-hour 'short-sleep' schedules, resulted in morning wakefulness during the biological night when melatonin levels were still high, said CU-Boulder Professor Kenneth Wright, lead study author. Melatonin is a sleep-promoting hormone produced naturally by the pineal gland and controlled by the brain's master clock, while insulin, produced in the pancreas, regulates blood sugar.