To understand our deep connection to nature, we have only to look at ways in which the environment affects physiology. For millions of years, living creatures have experienced cycles of daylight followed by nighttime darkness, and this cycle directly affects various physiological systems.
The fluctuations in physiology that show day/night cycles are called circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythms have an internal “clock” which is, in turn, synchronized by exposure to a stimulus in the external environment. A very specific example of a circadian rhythm is the day/night level of the hormone, melatonin.
Melatonin is one of the hormones produced by the pineal gland in the brain. This hormone is associated with sleep/wake cycles. The levels in the body are low during the day, but rise at night. Recent research shows how light, specifically blue light, affects the production of the hormone.
To understand how light affects melatonin, it is necessary to begin the back of the eye, in the retina. The retina has cells that respond to photons of light, and some of these cells respond specifically to blue light. These cells are separate and different from the rods and cones in the retina normally responsible for vision. A photopigment—or molecule—called “melanopsin” changes its chemistry when a photon of blue light strikes it. This chemical change causes a signal to be sent directly to the brain, to areas separate from where other visual information goes. After being stuck by blue light, when a photon of red light (or longer wavelength) strikes melanopsin, it “resets” to its initial chemical form, and the process can start over.
Blue light is naturally present during daytime as a slots part of white sunlight, but not at night.
Meanwhile, a signal is sent to various areas in the brain. Among these areas casino online france is one called the surprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which is a group of nerve cells or neurons. The SCN is the “master clock” in the brain, controlling circadian rhythms. Activity in the SCN is synchronized by light inputs.
And here is where it gets interesting! The SCN has inputs to the—you guessed it–pineal gland, which as mentioned above, secretes melatonin.
Research shows that the secretion of melatonin is suppressed specifically by blue light, resulting in lower levels during the day. Once the sun goes down, all natural blue light disappears, and melatonin levels rise.
The natural circadian rhythm of melatonin secretion is susceptible to ?????? ?????? ??? ???? blue light inputs from sources other than the sun. It has been shown that melatonin secretion is suppressed during the night by exposure to artificial blue light. Because this hormone helps regulate sleep, slots exposure to blue light at night can disrupt sleep patterns, which has wide-ranging effects on health. Research suggests that this disruption in sleep patterns can not only cause pokies stress, but disrupts the body’s physiology so much that it may become more susceptible to cancer.
The decrease in casino online melatonin during the night following exposure to artificial blue light is just one example of a potential health issue. Other hormones, such as the “stress” hormone cortisol, also show a circadian rhythm whichare adversely affected by blue light at night. What do these effects from artificial light sources mean for choosing what light to use, and when to use it?
Fortunately, the light spectrums of different types lamps are known. Many artificial light sources such as florescent lights, computer screens and LEDs produce the blue wavelength among other wavelengths contained in their spectrums. Incandescent lights, on the other hand, tend to generate light mostly in the warmer, redder wavelengths.
Knowing about these effects on physiology has spurred innovations to control the type of wavelength generated from a light source. In particular, LED technology is leading the way in the ability to change the color of light output from a particular fixture in order to control for adverse effects on health.
The Philips Company, for example, has an extensive range of lighting systems that allow the user to control the color output of each fixture. Their brand-new “smart” LED bulb, the Philips Hue, can be “tuned” to any color and is controlled by a smart phone application. From their website:
The app for Philips’ hue also features expert LightRecipes: four pre-programmed lighting settings based on Philips’ research around the biological effects that lighting has on the body. These scenarios adjust bulbs to the optimum shade and brightness of white light to help you relax, read, concentrate or energize.
With this technology, adverse effects of blue light on melatonin suppression at night can be controlled.
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