Sleep Is Impacted by Electric Lights:
- According to a recent study, electric light has an effect on people’s circadian rhythms and may interrupt sleep.
- Experts explain how strong light exposure throughout the day and nighttime may help with healthy body rhythms, comfortable sleep, and daily alertness.
- According to the researchers, light influences our daily sleep and alertness patterns through a particular cell in the eye that uses a light-sensitive protein called melanopsin.
According to recent research published in the journal PLOS Biology, the light people encounter in their everyday lives has a strong impact on their body rhythms, with around-the-clock access to electric lights mixed with limited exposure to natural sunshine causing sleep abnormalities.
The combination, according to the research, has a detrimental influence on human health, well-being, and productivity. The study also suggests how individuals should be exposed to bright light throughout the day and night-time to support healthy body rhythms, peaceful sleep, and daily alertness.
What to know
An international team of scientists led by Timothy Brown, Ph.D., of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and Kenneth Wright, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado Boulder has developed what they call one of the first evidence-based, consensus recommendations for healthy daytime, evening, and night-time light exposure. The standards are intended to assist the lighting and electronics businesses in designing healthier surroundings and improving how we light homes, workplaces, and public buildings.
Light, according to the researchers, affects our daily patterns of sleep and alertness via a specialized cell in the eye that uses a light-sensitive protein called melanopsin, which differs from proteins in the eye’s rods and cones that support vision (on which traditional methods of measuring “brightness” are based). Melanopsin is especially sensitive to light that falls within a certain range of the visible spectrum (blue-cyan light). The researchers created a new light measuring standard termed melanotic equivalent daylight illuminance to account for this one-of-a-kind characteristic.
Researchers reviewed data from a variety of laboratory and field investigations, claiming that the new measuring technique can predict the effects of light on human physiology and body rhythms with high accuracy.
As a result, the researchers may be able to make broadly relevant and significant suggestions about how we should use — and not utilize — light in our everyday lives. The next stage, according to the researchers, would be to include the suggestions into official lighting standards, which presently concentrate on aesthetic needs rather than light’s impact on health and well-being. They anticipate that the rising complexity of LED lighting technology, as well as the availability of low-cost light sensors, will make it easier for individuals to tailor their own light exposure to best support their own body rhythms.
How screens can affect your health
The Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine released research in the journal PNAS on the harmful effects of light on sleep and human health. The researchers discovered that sleeping with dim light, such as a TV set with the sound turned down, elevated the heart rate and blood sugar levels of healthy young adults by only one night.
Despite the fact that the patients were sleeping with their eyes closed, the dim light penetrated their eyelids and interrupted their slumber. According to the research, heart rate normally decreases during sleep, slowing down as the brain heals and rejuvenates the body. Numerous studies have shown that having an increased heart rate at night might be a risk factor for future heart disease and mortality.
“The findings of this study show that just one night of exposure to moderate room lighting during sleep can impair glucose and cardiovascular regulation, which are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome,” Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, the study’s author and the school’s chief of sleep medicine, told Northwestern Now. “It is critical for individuals to avoid or limit their exposure to light during sleeping.”
The Northwestern team advised against turning on any lights while sleeping. If you must have a light on (for example, for safety), make it a dim one that is closer to the floor. They also stated that the color of the light is essential. A light that is amber or red-orange is less stimulating to the brain. Avoid using white or blue light, and keep it as far away from the sleeping individual as possible. They also propose blackout curtains or eye masks for persons who are unable to manage external light, as well as moving your bed so that outdoor light does not shine on your face.
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