Melatonin - The key to the gate of sleep

Tamar Shochat, Iris Haimov, Peretz Lavie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reviews the evidence that melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland during the dark hours, plays a major role in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. In recent years, our laboratory has been involved in a large-scale project aimed at investigating the role of endogenous melatonin in sleep-wake regulation and the effects of nonpharmacological levels of melatonin on sleep. Based on our finding on the precise coupling between the endogenous nocturnal increase in melatonin secretion and the opening of the nocturnal sleep gate, we propose that the role of melatonin in the induction of sleep does not involve the active induction of sleep, but is rather mediated by an inhibition of a wakefulness-producing mechanism in the central nervous system. Our studies also suggest that exogenously administered melatonin may be beneficial in certain types of insomnia that are related to disturbances in the normal secretion of the hormone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-114
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • 7/13 paradigm
  • Insomnia
  • Melatonin
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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