The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are connected at the base of the brain, and are responsible for the regulation of hormones associated with growth and bone renewal. Certain factors produced by the hypothalamus are secreted and travel along the pituitary stalk, which then promotes the secretion of various pituitary hormones. Both glands within the brain are associated with numerous metabolic processes regarding growth of the body, as well as regulating hunger and thirst. The hypothalamus and pituitary also play a role in circadian rhythms and sleep by promoting and regulating growth hormone during stages of deep sleep.
Within the brain there are two glands known to help with the regulation of hormones such as growth hormone and insulin, and these two glands are called the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. The hypothalamus is on top of the pituitary and secretes factors that travel down the pituitary stalk, into the pituitary gland. This is the main connection between the two glands, as the pituitary gland cannot function properly without the aid of the hypothalamus. Although both of these glands are connected to each other, they do not always share the same function within the human body.
One of the main functions of the pituitary gland is to secrete a hormone called human growth hormone, which is crucial for the building of bone and the repair of tissues. The hypothalamus secretes the factor called growth hormone-releasing hormone while the fetus is still developing, helping to promote the release of human growth hormone for proper development. Both the hypothalamus and pituitary gland also seem to have a direct effect on the regulation of thirst and hunger signals. When either gland is not functioning properly for any reason, these signals can be thrown off balance, leading to increased or decreased hunger or thirst.
The pituitary seems to play a role in sleep by working alongside the pineal gland, located within the brain, to secrete the sleep hormone melatonin. During a state of deep sleep, the hypothalamus will secrete growth factors and promote the process of growth hormone secretion. The circadian rhythms, or the bodily sensors that judge when it is time to be asleep or awake, are controlled by cells located in the hypothalamus. This makes many researchers believe that most of our sleep cycles or governed not only by the pineal and pituitary gland, but by the hypothalamus gland as well.