Light, Sleep and Your Health

Posted on August 18, 2008. Filed under: health, wellbeing | Tags: , , , , |

Overview of biological circadian clock in huma...Image via Wikipedia

In natural health circles it has long been known that you need at least 15 minutes of full spectrum sunlight on your face 2 to 3 times a day to initiate a proper wake-sleep cycle. Now researchers have found new cells in the eye that may give us new clues as to why.

Full spectrum light is actually crucial to your health, and avoiding all sunlight is really dangerous to your healthy. These days kids and office workers are some of the unhealthiest people due to the amount of time they spend indoors in articificial lighting. It worries me quite a lot to see so many children and teens spending so much time in front of some kind of screen, be it a computer, a TV or a game like the Wii. Now cudo’s to Nintendo as it is one way to help our screen addicted kids to exercise, but it doesnt’ help them to get outside where they will be positively affected by sunlight and fresh air.

Now that I have had my say, here is the research I talked about earlier:

“A set of nerve cells in the eye control our levels of sleepiness according to the brightness of our surroundings, Oxford University researchers have discovered. The cells directly regulate the activity of sleep centres in the brain, providing a new target for the development of drugs to control sleep and alertness.

Immune systems, cognitive performance, and mental health are all affected by the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Sleep disruption is known to be associated with a range of problems, including depression, immune impairment and a greater risk of cancer. Many drugs have been developed to modify sleep-wake cycles but these are crude, affecting many chemical pathways and different parts of the brain at the same time, and have side-effects.

‘Sleep and the disruption of sleep patterns is a huge problem in the 21st century,’ says Professor Russell G. Foster of Oxford’s Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, who led the work. ‘Our working culture of long hours and shift work, with the 24/7 availability of almost everything, have conspired to demote sleep in our priorities.’

The presence and absence of light can affect levels of sleepiness and alertness. It’s why dimly lit rooms lead us to feel drowsy, while bright lights stimulate wakefulness. During the Second World War it was shown that brightly lit factories had a more alert and productive workforce than dimly lit factories, but until now little was known about how this happened.

‘We have discovered a new pathway that modulates sleep and arousal,’ Professor Foster explains. ‘If we can mimic the effect of light pharmacologically, we could turn sleep on and off.'”

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3 Responses to “Light, Sleep and Your Health”

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[…] Original post by wamfitandwell […]

Very good blog. I’ve subscribed to its feed… Keep up the good work…

Excellent blog. I have also observed that we feel drowsy in dimly lit rooms while bright lights stimulate wakefulness.

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