Blue, blue, my world is blue!
New York is turning off the lights at night due to confusion in the bird world. Experts believe that the light is causing disorientation and deaths of countless migrating birds. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-32491715 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27426866
This is a tragedy. But what about you and me? What does light do for and to us?
Light at night is bad for your health, and exposure to blue light emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs may be especially so. Harvard Medical School.
It is now known that all light but in particular,“blue light” (from TV, mobile, laptop and tablet screens) interferes with sleep. Worse, ,research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night.
Daily rhythms influenced by light
Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr.Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.
The health risks
Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. All light can supress the natural production of melanin which is the hormone which historically kicks in with sunset but blue light seems to be the most powerful suppressor of all.
A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.
Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
What you can do?
Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses.
Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
Take the sleep test here...
A = 4 points
B = 3
C = 2
D = 1
Night Hawk. You might be sleep deprived which could make you bad tempered and harm your memory.
You should try to go to bed a little earlier on weekdays “an hour’s sleep before midnight is worth two hours after” Early starts and then a long day when you are not refreshed and replenished can have a knock on effect in other areas of your life, health and relationships.
Early Bird. Consider yourself lucky! The majority don’t like getting up at this time. But are you taking on too much because you are up and at it and on the go 24/7?
Neither Early Bird nor Night Hawk. You seem to have moderate sleep patterns. This is helpful when under stress but you can be tempted to take on more than your fair share.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a fact sheet to help you manage your body clock
© 2014 Ruane BioEnergetics
The subjects covered in this website are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. If you have a medical condition of concern, please consult the appropriate health care professional.
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