Pineal Gland Secretions, Functions & Pathology

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  • 0:00 Pineal Gland
  • 0:35 Melatonin
  • 1:13 Sleep Disturbance
  • 2:16 SAD
  • 2:45 Pinealoma
  • 3:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Your pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin, which helps you sleep. Learn about disorders associated with the pineal gland, such as sleep disturbance, seasonal affective disorder and tumors and how the conditions are treated.

‚Äč!!!Pineal Gland

Would you believe me if I told you that your ability to sleep or even your mood were strongly influenced by substances so small that you can't see them? Well, it's true; these tiny substances that help regulate activities within your body are called hormones. Hormones are secreted from glands. The pineal gland secretes a hormone that influences your sleep and mood. In this lesson, you'll learn about the hormone secreted by the pineal gland and how that secretion can be affected by different factors.


Your pineal gland is a small gland found deep inside your brain. It's sometimes referred to as the third eye because the release of its hormone, melatonin, is dependent on how much light the pineal gland 'sees,' or detects, in your environment.

Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in your body's day and night cycle. Basically, melatonin is released with the dark of night and is inhibited with the light of day. So, you might want to think of melatonin as your sleep switch. As soon as the lights go off, melatonin production kicks in, and you feel sleepy.

Sleep Disturbance

Because the secretion of melatonin is influenced by the day and night cycle, it's easy to see that night shift work can result in sleep disruption. People who work the 'graveyard shift' miss out on the normal melatonin secretions because they are exposed to light during the night. Melatonin can be secreted during the day if the night shift worker sleeps in a completely dark environment, yet this reversal of the normal melatonin pattern often leads to chronic fatigue.

Sometimes older individuals have trouble sleeping. For some, this could be due to calcification of the pineal gland that naturally occurs with age. The calcified pineal gland is not as good at pumping out melatonin, so sleep is harder to come by.

People who suffer with sleep disturbance, whether it's due to calcification of the pineal gland or challenging work schedules, may find some relief by taking a melatonin supplement. These supplements are sold over-the-counter and can be found in most local pharmacies.

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