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Meet Your Pineal Gland

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Many of my friends are trying to become healthier sleepers, and I am too. One of the biggest things that prevents us from being able to sleep is, of course, light! In her excellent New York Magazine article about sleep, Ashley Merryman points out that “the light from a television or computer can delay both the necessary drop in core body temperature and melatonin production—and thus delaying sleep onset—by two hours.”

Wo! Dim the lights and shut the laptop! No wonder I’ve been having trouble sleeping!

So…what part of my body is keeping track of how much light I’m exposed to? It’s… my pineal gland! Check out this great description from Anodea Judith’s book Wheels of Life:

…the pineal gland [is] a tiny (10 x 6 mm) cone-shaped gland located in the geometric center of the head at approximately eye level. It is possible that this gland was, at one time, located nearer to the top of the head. In some species of reptiles it still is, forming a kind of light-sensitive perceptual organ, resembling another eye.

The pineal gland… acts as a light meter for the body, translating variations in light to hormonal messages relayed to the body through the autonomic nervous system. Over 100 body functions have daily rhythms which are influenced by exposure to light. […] Embryologically, the pineal gland is derived from a third eye that begins to develop early in the embryo and later degenerates. The pineal has some tranquilizing effect on the nervous system and the removal of the pineal can predispose an animal to seizures.

Aiiiiii!!! So there’s actually a physical version of the spiritual third eye? That is SO COOL!!!

Now I want to start working with my little pineal gland instead of against it.

Related Posts:
Regain Your Sleeping Powers
Entrain Your Brain
Entrain Your Brain #2
Why Sleep is Awesome #1
Why Sleep Is Awesome #2

Topics: sleep

2 Comments on “Meet Your Pineal Gland”

  • Sue VanHattum on January 18th 9:19 pm

    Jessica Prentice has a chapter about light pollution in her book, Full Moon Feast. I think you’d like it.

  • Rebecca Zook on January 21st 4:59 pm

    Sue, thanks for the suggestion! I’ve been meaning to read that book forever, and your suggestion makes me want to read it even more.

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