It’s Function Declines with Age
Similar to the human body in general, the function of the pineal gland declines with age. In particular, the amount of melatonin it secretes. According to Medical News Today, it’s unlikely the decrease in melatonin is the sole culprit for any age-related changes in the body, but lower levels of this hormone could help explain the aging process. In fact, as people age, they tend to sleep less or have trouble falling asleep. There could be some correlation to the pineal gland. (To help, check out this article on Sleeping Tips for Seniors).
Another study on mice found that changes to the pineal gland may affect bone metabolism. This is more evidence that the function of the pineal gland declines with age, as more postmenopausal women are vulnerable to osteoporosis.
Impacts Sense of Direction
A 1985 study published in the British Medical Journal found that people with damage to their pineal gland also had a decreased sense of direction. This suggests that the pineal gland may affect our (or at least some people’s) innate sense of direction or spatial navigation.
Result of a Dysfunctional Pineal Gland
There are two major problems that can occur with the pineal gland, causing it to malfunction. The first is a large accumulation of calcium deposits. “These deposits are normal in healthy individuals, but excessive calcification can prevent the pineal gland from functioning properly,” writes Medical News Today.
The second is, due to its association with the hypothalamus, the pineal gland can encounter problems such as cancer, tumors, or hormonal issues. While tumors on the pineal gland are extremely rare, they can alter the function of this pear-shaped organ.
How would someone know if their pineal gland is dysfunctional? The source goes on to explain that the most common symptom of a dysfunction pineal gland is a change in circadian rhythms. This could be either sleeping too much or too little. You might feel active and restless in the night or struggle to stay awake during the day. Other symptoms include “headache, nausea, vomiting, tremor, difficulty with sense of direction, fertility issues (including changes to menstrual cycle or ovulation), osteoporosis,” explains the source, as well as mental health issues.