Can insomnia affect my memory?

In a previous post we spoke about some of the daytime symptoms of insomnia. This can include difficulties with memory. It is known that sleep is essential for many physiological processes, including memory formation and consolidation1. In this article we’ll be covering a brief overview of memory, memory consolidation as well as how this could […]

Sleep hygiene for insomnia – is it enough?

If you are someone who has experienced difficulties with your sleep, it is likely that you have heard of a group of lifestyle modifications collectively known as sleep hygiene. Practising good sleep hygiene is something that is commonly recommended by a wide range of healthcare professionals, including primary care physicians, psychologists, wellbeing practitioners, lifestyle coaches, […]

How was REM sleep discovered?

In a previous post we broke down the different stages of sleep. One of the most interesting stages of sleep is REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is the stage of sleep where we dream. In this post I am going to answer a question that one of my patients asked me – how was […]

Beta blockers, melatonin and cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2019, and this represented 32% of all global deaths1. In the UK, cardiovascular disease causes a quarter of all deaths, equivalent to more than 160,000 deaths per year2. Cardiovascular disease is […]

Can bright light suppress melatonin secretion?

The short answer is yes. Humans are generally known to have a 24-hour circadian cycle, although the intrinsic period of the human circadian pacemaker actually averages 24.18 hours. What this means is that if we cannot entrain ourselves to the light-dark cycle, with each passing day, we would be waking up roughly 15-20 minutes later, […]

The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – an introduction

In a previous post we mentioned the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). In this post we will shed some light on this tiny but important region of the brain. Where is the suprachiasmatic nucleus? Unlike the pineal gland, of which there is only one, the suprachiasmatic nucleus is actually a pair of nuclei (one on each side […]

The timing of melatonin secretion and how melatonin secretion changes as we age

Melatonin is mainly secreted from the pineal gland at night. It is also secreted in small amounts from the retina. We know that the level of melatonin secreted varies depending on the time of day or night. In this post we’ll explore the pattern of melatonin secretion in more detail. The release of melatonin from […]

The pineal gland – the main source of melatonin

In my previous post we mentioned the pineal gland, the main source of melatonin. But what is the pineal gland? The pineal gland is a very small structure in the brain, roughly 5-9mm in length, and 1-5mm in width. It weighs between 100-180mg1. The pineal gland is located near the centre of the brain, between […]

An introduction to Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone, and it was first discovered in 1958 by Dr Aaron Lerner, an American physician at Yale University School of medicine. It is secreted by the pineal gland, which is a small endocrine gland located within the brain. Tissue samples from the pineal glands of animals was found to alter melanin pigmentation […]

What actually happens when we sleep?

Humans spend roughly one third of their lifetime sleeping. While sleep is an experience that all of us can relate to, it is something that is not always straightforward to define. The Cambridge dictionary defines sleep as “the resting state in which the body is not active and the mind is unconscious”. A behavioural definition […]