How do our bodies know when to go to sleep?

A piece I wrote for the British Council Blog prior to FameLab International.

How do our bodies know when it’s night?

In our eyes, there are photoreceptors: cells which can determine the difference between light and darkness. But how do the kidneys, liver or stomach know when it’s dark or light?

During periods of darkness, the photoreceptors in our eyes send a signal to a part of our brain called the pineal gland, which starts the production of melatonin. Melatonin is known as the ‘hormone of the night’. It’s a chemical expression of darkness. It acts as an endocrine hormone, meaning that it’s released into the blood. While circulating in our body, it chemically informs all our organs that it’s dark outside and all body parts should be getting ready to sleep.

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