Taking Advantage of your Endocrine System

Hello everyone! It’s been a while! 🙂

I’ve been learning a lot lately about the endocrine system. I’ve always found the endocrine system so interesting because of how it can affect nearly every part of our bodies and every single one of our cells!

(SOURCE: this image came right from my text book, Marieb, Anatomy and Physiology, 4th edition)

This internal communication system that regulates our body can be our best friend or worst enemy when trying to meet and maintain fitness goals.

I won’t go into a super in-depth explanation just yet. I decided to do a little, short series on different endocrine glands because I feel it is important that everyone have a better understanding of these very CRUCIAL glands so that we can TRAIN SMARTER, NOT HARDER. 😉

Today we will focus on the pineal gland!

(SOURCE: this image came right from my text book, Marieb, Anatomy and Physiology, 4th edition)

This tiny, little gland may be the reason you’re an insomniac; it may be the reason you toss and turn at night; it may be the reason you wake up at the same time every day–even when you want to sleep in on the weekends.

The pineal gland mainly secrets melatonin. I’m sure you’ve all heard of melatonin. Maybe you’ve even taken a small dose of melatonin before to help induce sleep.

Melatonin is an antioxidant that is derived from serotonin. It is released in a daily cycle–highest at night and lowest around 12 or noon time.

Melatonin’s benefits extend beyond sleep. Melatonin has been recently shown to help migraine sufferers, protect the body against free radicals, protect lipids and proteins, and even help cancer patients have a better response to chemotherapy drugs to better fight the cancer. (You can read more on the study and benefits at this site!)

How can I use this information to my advantage?

The pineal gland receives input from your eyes!

The more light it is exposed to, the less melatonin it releases. Along with the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, it is referred to our biological clock.

You can actually offset your “biological clock” by continuously exposing yourself to light at night and influence physiological processes that work with the clock to regulate sleep, appetite, and body temperature!

In animals, melatonin even mediates mating and size of gonads.


  1. Shut off all electronics and sources of bright light at least an hour before bed.
  2. Sleep in a dark, slightly cooler room.
  3. Get at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night.

Other tips related to sleep and the endocrine system but not the pineal gland…

  • Don’t eat big meals before bed. Stop eating at least an hour before bed because TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is also released in higher levels at night, causing your body temperature to rise. The metabolism of food also raises body temperature. This could interrupt your sleep,  and the digestion of the food can also cause sleep disturbances.
  • Try to work out earlier in the day, such as the morning because cortisol release is highest in the morning and helps you deal with “stressors”. It is lowest right before bed in the evening. If you workout at night, you could spike your cortisol levels if your workout is more glycolytically demanding, causing sleep to be more difficult.
  • During sleep, growth hormone is released in the highest amounts! SO MAKE SURE YOU SLEEP TO GROW.

Sleep is essential to leading a health, functional lifestyle. You will function better in general, and your body will thank you!

Train hard, eat clean, and educate yourself!

Hope this helps!

God bless!


Published by Danielle

28-year-old, Christian, family nurse practitioner with a love for health, fitness, wellness, medicine, and the human body.

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