Insomnia, Stress and The Circadian Light Show

Posted on June 8, 2008. Filed under: health, wellbeing | Tags: , , , |

Overview of biological circadian clock in humans. Biological clock affects the daily rhythm of many physiological processes. This diagram depicts the circadian patterns typical of someone who rises early in morning, eats lunch around noon, and sleeps at night (10 p.m.). Although circadian rhythms tend to be synchronized with cycles of light and dark, other factors - such as ambient temperature, meal times, stress and exercise - can influence the timing as well.

Image via Wikipedia

Light is good for you, I’ll restate that: SUNLIGHT IS GOOD FOR YOU

I have spent half my life telling my clients, especially my insomniac clients that they need to have at least 15 minutes of sunlight on their face and forehead at least once a day. For obvious reasons this needs to be before 10am in the morning or after 3pm in the afternoon, however this is one of the surest cures for insomnia and night time stress along with a whole lot of other health challenges.

Sunlight contains the whole spectrum of colours and therefore really the only light on this planet that sets and re-sets our circadian rhythms. As you can see from the quote below this is important. The worst offending lights are fluorescent lights and as good little greenies we have all switched to low energy fluorescents in our bid ro help save the planet. A worthwhile cause, I absolutely agree, but what is it doing to our health?

One idea around this is to install full spectrum fluorescent globes, which are alittle bit expensive, but worth it for you health, and we may see more of these globes being offered now that the research is in. However, please take note and get out into the sun (without sunscreen) every day to boost your Vitamin D levels and set your circadian rhythms.

“Like a wristwatch that needs to be wound daily for accurate time-telling, the human circadian system — the biological cycles that repeat approximately every 24 hours — requires daily light exposure to the eye’s retina to remain synchronized with the solar day. In a new study published in the June issue of Neuroscience Letters, researchers have demonstrated that when it comes to the circadian system, not all light exposure is created equal.

The findings have profound implications for exploring how lighting can be used to adjust our bodies’ clocks, and they could redefine the way lighting is manufactured, according to Mariana Figueiro, lead author of the paper and assistant professor in the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Short-wavelength light, including natural light from the blue sky, is highly effective at stimulating the circadian system. Exposure to other wavelengths — and thus colors — of light may necessitate longer exposure times or require higher exposure levels to be as effective at “winding the watch.”

Nocturnal melatonin, a hormone produced at night and under conditions of darkness, is used as a marker for the circadian clock. Scientific evidence suggests that disruption of the circadian system — and thus the melatonin cycle — may result in increased malignant tumor growth, as well as poor sleep quality, lack of alertness, seasonal depression, and immune deficiencies.” (Physorg.com)

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and… Sleep, Sleep or You May Not Be Able to Make Sense of Your World

Posted on May 21, 2008. Filed under: health, wellbeing | Tags: , , , , |

Overview of biological circadian clock in humans. Biological clock affects the daily rhythm of many physiological processes. This diagram depicts the circadian patterns typical of someone who rises early in morning, eats lunch around noon, and sleeps at night (10 p.m.). Although circadian rhythms tend to be synchronized with cycles of light and dark, other factors - such as ambient temperature, meal times, stress and exercise - can influence the timing as well.

Image via Wikipedia

Scientists have found that we need sleep even more than we thought. In a study that kept people awake and then tested their responses proved that they could manage ordinary, day to day tasks. however they found it really difficult to make sense of what they saw. How often do we go without sleep partticularly man on shift work and women going through menopause and yet do not stop to think about what the lack of sleep is doing to us and how it can alter our perception of the world?

“The scientists found that even after sleep deprivation, people had periods of near-normal brain function in which they could finish tasks quickly. However, this normalcy mixed with periods of slow response and severe drops in visual processing and attention, according to their paper, published in the Journal of Neuroscience on May 21.

“Interestingly, the team found that a sleep-deprived brain can normally process simple visuals, like flashing checkerboards. But the ‘higher visual areas’ – those that are responsible for making sense of what we see – didn’t function well,” said Dr. Michael Chee, lead author and professor at the Neurobehavioral Disorders Program at Duke-NUS. “Herein lies the peril of sleep deprivation.” Physorg

If you’re finding it difficult to get enough sleep try these simple suggestions:

  • a glass of warm milk (yes, it does work because it has calcium and tryptophan both great for soothing the brain.
  • make sure it is dark in your bedroom, your pineal regulates your circadian rhythms through light and the absence of it
  • be sure to get at least 15 minutes of sunlight on your face every day (around 8-9am or 4-5pm for sun safety, this light is important as it will signal the pineal to regulate your circadian rhythms
  • if you are not asleep within 1/2 an hour to an hour get up and make a cup of warm milk and sit quietly in the dark and sip (when you get up at night use as little light as possible, none if you can get away with it, I use the light in my oven.
  • sit up and do 15 minutes of meditation (my favourite) and then just snuggle back down again and allow yourself to drift off
  • body temperature is really important for sleep, our core temperature must cool for us to be able to sleep, so stick a foot out or both hands and Chill!

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