Melatonin And Cortisol – The Hormones That Tell You It Is Time To Sleep Or Stay Awake

Our body has a biological clock that dictates what the body needs. From the time we wake up until we go to bed, the body clock sends out signals to the brain that tell us what the body needs at that time. The clock tells us when it is time to have our breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even tells when the body needs rest, and it is time for sleep. Various hormones in our body make the clockwork among which Melatonin plays a critical role in telling your body when it is time to go to sleep. Moreover, another hormone Cortisol that works in different parts of the brain and controls mood motivation and fear and influences sleep.

In this article, we will discuss Melatonin and Cortisol – how to get a hold of hormones responsible for your sleep. It should help to understand the hormones and how it impacts sleep.


How Melatonin works

The pineal gland in the brain produces the hormone Melatonin and tells the body when it is time to sleep. The body starts producing the hormone in the evening that slowly prepares the body for rest. The production of Melatonin is the result of a series of chemical synthesis that begins with the conversion of amino acid tryptophan into serotonin by the pineal gland during the day. The body produces norepinephrine at night. That sends a signal to the pineal gland to start converting serotonin into melatonin, a process regulated by the enzymes of your body. The melatonin then mixes with the cerebrospinal fluids in your bloodstream where it picks up the protein called albumin and circulates across the body. When the melatonin reaches the body clock in the brain, it signals that it is time to take rest and induces sleep.

How Cortisol works

The triangular-shaped adrenal glands located above the kidneys produce a steroid hormone called Cortisol, which is the body’s primary stress hormone responsible for mood, motivation, and fear. From impacting the level of blood sugar and blood pressure to regulating the manner of use of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat in the body to controlling sleep and wake cycle, Cortisol does many things. Disruption in Cortisol level not only cause sleep problems but also lead to anxiety and depression as well as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure digestion problems, weight gain and memory, and concentration problems.

Unlike Melatonin, Cortisol secretion begins from the morning and tells the body that it is time to wake up. It increases during the day and boosts energy and then during the evening when Melatonin secretion begins, Cortisol levels starts receding.


Treatment of sleeping disorders like insomnia, advanced sleep phase syndrome, delayed phase sleep syndrome, and irregular sleep-wake rhythm, by using melatonin supplements is quite prevalent. However, there is no proof available yet that melatonin rich diet can affect the level of hormones in your body. Maintaining good sleep hygiene by going to bed and waking up at the same time can lower Cortisol level, but it takes time. Exercising moderately and eating healthy foods can lower Cortisol in the long run.