The role of the thalamus in sleep, pineal melatonin production, and circadian rhythm sleep disorders

James E. Jan, Russel J. Reiter, Michael B. Wasdell, Martin Bax

Research output: Contribution to journalShort survey

92 Scopus citations


The thalamus has a strong nonphotic influence on sleep, circadian rhythmicity, pineal melatonin production, and secretion. The opening of the sleep gate for nonrapid eye movement sleep is a thalamic function but it is assisted by melatonin which acts by promoting spindle formation. Thus, melatonin has a modulatory influence on sleep onset and maintenance. A remarkable similarity exists between spindle behavior, circadian rhythmicity, and pineal melatonin production throughout life. Together, the thalamic and chronobiological control of sleep leads to a new and improved understanding of the pathophysiology of circadian rhythm sleep disorders and also of the principles of sleep hygiene interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pineal research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009



  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
  • Intergeniculate leaflet
  • Melatonin
  • Sleep gates
  • Spindles
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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