Are You Missing One of the Most Vital Ingredients in a Healthy Lifestyle?
Posted By ANH-USA On March 27, 2012 @ 5:50 pm In International | No Comments
Hint: it helps you lose weight and live longer, it’s enjoyable, you probably don’t do it nearly enough, and there’s important new research about it that you need to know.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman , besides eating whole foods and moving your body, the most important thing you can do for your health is to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation makes you fat, and leads to depression, pain, heart disease, diabetes, and much more.
Even mainstream medicine agrees. In its report “Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem ,” the Institute of Medicine recently estimated that 50 to 40 million Americans chronically suffer from a sleep disorder, hindering daily functioning and adversely affecting their health and longevity.
Harvard Health Publica points out  that lack of sufficient sleep can have consequences ranging from the mild to the life-threatening:
- A 2009 study in Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who slept an average of less than seven hours per night were three times as likely to get sick from viral infections as those who averaged at least eight hours.
- A 2008 article in the journal Obesity that analyzed findings from 36 different studies of sleep duration and body weight found that lack of sufficient sleep tends to disrupt hormones that control hunger and appetite, and the resulting daytime fatigue often discourages you from exercising. A recent US survey  found that the states reporting the most sleep problems—West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama—also have the highest obesity rates.
- A 2009 report found health difficulties in people with persistent insomnia (sleeping less than six hours per night): a threefold increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes, and a three-and-a-half times greater risk of high blood pressure.
- A study of about 1,000 young adults found that, compared with normal sleepers, insomniacs were four times as likely to develop major depression within three years. Sleep problems in the teenagers preceded depression 69% of the time and anxiety disorders 27% of the time.
- A Japanese heart disease study noted a 1.3-fold increase in mortality in sleep-deprived patients compared with those who got sufficient sleep. Severe sleep apnea raises the risk of dying early by 46%. Although only about 8% of the men in the study had severe apnea, those who did and who were between 40 and 70 years of age were twice as likely to die from any cause as healthy men in the same age group.
Teenagers are taking classes earlier and earlier, with buses picking kids up at 5:45 a.m. and classes starting at 6:30 a.m. But is this good for their health? A coalition of Virginia parents, teachers, and administrators  says no: adolescents on average need 9¼ hours of sleep per night, but average only 7½ hours of sleep per night (with 25 percent sleeping 6½ hours or less).
Sleep deprivation affects teens’ ability to think, perform, and react appropriately and safely, including when driving a car. As parents know, teenagers for some reason naturally become night owls and late risers. Band practice at dawn doesn’t help. Since sleep deprivation contributes to depression, and adolescent brains are undergoing dramatic chemical changes, going without sleep to accommodate a school schedule may also set them up for a dangerous SSRI prescription .
How much sleep do the rest of us need? According to the National Sleep Foundation , adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, keeping in mind that individual needs vary and it is important to listen to your body. Similar recommendations come from mainstream  and integrative  medical experts.
Here are a few vital tips for improving your sleep:
- A healthy diet and vigorous exercise help tremendously in allowing your body to fall asleep naturally.
- Get regular exposure to daylight for at least 20 minutes daily — the light from the sun enters your eyes and triggers your brain to secrete and then release specific chemicals and hormones like melatonin that are vital to healthy sleep.
- Honor the natural circadian rhythm —sleep when it’s dark, wake when it’s light. Studies suggest that this will make a tremendous contribution to overall health. It’s not really surprising. Our bodies evolved with sunlight, not electrical lights.
- Don’t use artificial light in the evening after going to bed—it shuts down melatonin release. Any sort of light can suppress melatonin release, but recent experiments have pointed the finger at one type in particular: the blue wavelengths produced by many kinds of energy-efficient light bulbs and electronic gadgets . Computer monitors, cell phones, and LED television screens are especially bad. Special glasses to remove blue light  will help protect you if you must turn on lights after going to bed. A special nightlight with a red wavelength can make all the difference if you need a nightlight. (None of this should be surprising. Blue light is the light of dawn. No wonder your body is confused when your computer flashes blue lights in the wee hours of the night! And those people who, unable to sleep, get up and turn on their cell phone or computer or iPad are doing the worst thing they possibly can. Maybe we all need to learn to count sheep again.)
- Avoid both alcohol and caffeine 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
- Make the room you’re sleeping in as dark and quiet as possible. A cool (though not cold) room is often the most sleep-inducing. If you can’t get away from noise, install some white noise from an air cleaner or similar source. This will cover the other noise and not interfere with sleep. When traveling, you can use some soft ear plugs made by Flynt.
- Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends melatonin  if you are having trouble going to sleep, but notes that the commonly listed dosage (five milligrams) is more than what most people require; instead, he recommends starting with one milligram and work up to 2.5 milligrams if necessary. Up to 5 or 6 milligrams might be needed on special occasions, such as when you are jet lagged. Melatonin (taken at your new bedtime at the travel destination) is by far the best cure for jet lag.
- It is not surprising that melatonin is such an effective supplement. It is the same substance that our bodies use to put us to sleep. It is also a highly important antioxidant and a vital part of our immune system. No wonder our immune systems do so much of their work at night when we are asleep! One word of caution however: a small minority of melatonin supplement users report that it gives them overly vivid dreams. In the unlikely event that you experience this, you can simply discontinue use.
- Dr. Hyman  also mentions melatonin, and recommends trying supplements like 320 mg to 480 mg of valerian one hour before bedtime; 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed to calm the nervous system and muscles; as well as theanine (an amino acid from green tea), GABA, magnolia, and 5-HTP. Other authorities mention passionflower for its calming effects. Passionflower can also be used during the day.5-HTP is a close relative of the amino acid tryptophan, which the body needs to make serotonin. When anti-depression drugs (which inhibit the break down of serotonin) first appeared, the FDA banned tryptophan as a supplement, using one contaminated batch as the excuse. Tryptophan is now once again available as a supplement, although at a much higher price than before. It should be taken at night, preferably with a bite of food, such as a few walnuts and a bit of fruit, which will help you make use of the tryptophan.
- GABA in particular is the natural hormone that calms us down from an over-anxious state, but many GABA supplements either don’t seem to get through the stomach or else fail to work effectively for some other reason. Pharma GABA by Thorne is effective, although some other brands may work as well.
In general, though, the key to getting a good night’s sleep isn’t supplements. It is sleeping while it is dark and avoiding light, especially blue light, once you have gone to bed.
Article printed from The Alliance for Natural Health USA: http://www.anh-usa.org
URL to article: http://www.anh-usa.org/are-you-missing-one-of-the-most-vital-ingredients-in-a-healthy-lifestyle/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/sleep.jpg
 According to Dr. Mark Hyman: http://drhyman.com/blog/conditions/how-to-sleep-better-lose-weight-and-live-longer/
 Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem: http://www.iom.edu/%7E/media/Files/Report%20Files/2006/Sleep-Disorders-and-Sleep-Deprivation-An-Unmet-Public-Health-Problem/Sleepforweb.ashx
 points out: http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/how-sleep-loss-threatens-your-health
 A recent US survey: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2113636/Southerners-worse-sleep–theyre-likely-obese.html
 A coalition of Virginia parents, teachers, and administrators: http://www.sleepinfairfax.org/
 a dangerous SSRI prescription: http://www.anh-usa.org../why-would-a-young-person-start-shooting-in-school/
 According to the National Sleep Foundation: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
 mainstream: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487
 integrative: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/23/seven-hours–the-magic-number-for-sleep.aspx
 natural circadian rhythm: http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.htm
 the blue wavelengths produced by many kinds of energy-efficient light bulbs and electronic gadgets: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/health/05light.html?pagewanted=all
 Special glasses to remove blue light: https://www.lowbluelights.com/index.asp
 Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends melatonin: http://www.parade.com/health/2012/01/dr-oz-sleep-better-in-2012.html?index=6
2/27/2012Melatonin and DiabetesThe significant role sleep has in determining risk of diabetes
From New York Times Health
Annual Sleep In America Poll Explores Connections With Communications Technology Use And Sleep
Annual Sleep InAmerica Poll Explores Connections With Communications Technology Use And Sleep
07 Mar 2011
The 2011 Sleep in America® poll just released by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) finds pervasive use of communications technology in the hour before bed. It also finds that a significant number of Americans aren`t getting the sleep they say they need and are searching for ways to cope.
Many Americans report dissatisfaction with their sleep during the week
The poll found that 43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely or never get a good night`s sleep on weeknights. More than half (60%) say that they experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night (i.e., snoring, waking in the night, waking up too early, or feeling un-refreshed when they get up in the morning.)
About two-thirds (63%) of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Most say they need about seven and a half hours of sleep to feel their best, but report getting about six hours and 55 minutes of sleep on average weeknights. About 15% of adults between 19 and 64 and 7% of 13-18 year olds say they sleep less than six hours on weeknights.
“This poll explores the association between Americans` use of communication technologies and sleep habits,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “While these technologies are commonplace, it is clear that we have a lot more to learn about the appropriate use and design of this technology to complement good sleep habits.”
Communications technology use before sleep is pervasive
Americans report very active technology use in the hour before trying to sleep. Almost everyone surveyed, 95%, uses some type of electronics like a television, computer, video game or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed. However, baby boomers (46-64 year olds), generation X`ers (30-45 year olds), generation Y`ers (19-29 year olds) and generation Z`ers (13-18 year olds) report very different technology preferences.
About two-thirds of baby boomers (67%) and generation X`ers (63%) and half of generation Z`ers (50%) and generation Y`ers (49%) watch television every night or almost every night within the hour before going to sleep.
“Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour – making it more difficult to fall asleep,” says Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women`s Hospital. “This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need.”
Computer or laptop use is also common. Roughly six in ten (61%) say they use their laptops or computers at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed. More than half of generation Z`ers (55%) and slightly less of generation Y`ers (47%) say they surf the Internet every night or almost every night within the hour before sleep.
“My research compares how technologies that are `passively received` such as TVs and music versus those with `interactive` properties like video games, cell phones and the Internet may affect the brain differently,” says Michael Gradisar, PhD, Flinders University (Australia). “The hypothesis is that the latter devices are more alerting and disrupt the sleep-onset process. If you feel that these activities are alerting or causing you anxiety, try doing something more `passive` to help you wind down before bed.”
Generation Z`ers (36%) and generation Y`ers (28%) are about twice as likely as generation X`ers (15%) and baby boomers (12%) to say they play a video game within the hour before bedtime at least a few times a week. More than one in ten (14%) of generation Z`ers say they do so every night or almost every night before going to sleep.
“Over the last 50 years, we`ve seen how television viewing has grown to be a near constant before bed, and now we are seeing new information technologies such as laptops, cell phones, video games and music devices rapidly gaining the same status,” says Lauren Hale, PhD, Stony Brook University Medical Center. “The higher use of these potentially more sleep-disruptive technologies among younger generations may have serious consequences for physical health, cognitive development and other measures of wellbeing.”
Cell phone use, specifically texting and talking on the phone, shows a significant age gap. More than half of generation Z`ers (56%) and nearly half of generation Y`ers (42%) say they send, read or receive text messages every night or almost every night in the hour before bed compared to 15% of generation X`ers and 5% of baby boomers.
Cell phones were sometimes a sleep disturbance. About in one in ten of generation Z`ers (9%) say that they are awakened after they go to bed every night or almost every night by a phone call, text message or email. About one in five of generation Y`ers (20%) and generation Z`ers (18%) say this happens at least a few nights a week.
“Unfortunately cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may also be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep at night leaving millions of Americans functioning poorly the next day,” says Russell Rosenberg, PhD, Vice Chairman of the National Sleep Foundation.
Baby boomers are less sleepy than generations Y and Z
Generation Z`ers and generation Y`ers report more sleepiness than generation X`ers and baby boomers, with the 13-18 year olds being the sleepiest of all. Roughly one in five of generation Z`ers (22%) and generation Y`ers (16%) rate as “sleepy” using a standard clinical assessment tool (included in the poll) compared to about one in ten generation X`ers (11%) and baby boomers (9%).
Generation Z`ers report sleeping an average of 7 hours and 26 minutes on weeknights, about an hour and 45 minutes less than the 9 hours and 15 minute recommended by experts. More than half of 13-18 year olds (54%) say they wake up between 5:00 am and 6:30 am on weekdays – compared to 45% of generation X`ers and baby boomers and 24% of generation Y`ers.
“As children develop into their teenage years, their bodies are biologically predisposed towards later bedtimes,” says Amy Wolfson, PhD, an expert on adolescent sleep. “If they are required to get up before 6:30 to go to school, it`s impossible for teens to get the amount of sleep they need.”
Coping with sleepiness through caffeine and naps
Americans are coping with sleepiness by drinking caffeine and taking regular naps. The average person on a weekday drinks about three 12 ounce caffeinated beverages, with little difference between age groups.
Napping is common in all age groups, but the two youngest groups reported slightly more napping during the week. More than half of generation Z`ers (53%) and generation Y`ers (52%) say they take at least one nap during the work week/school week compared to about four in ten generation X`ers (38%) and baby boomers (41%).
For the more than a quarter who say their schedules do not allow for adequate sleep, when asked to evaluate the day after getting inadequate sleep, more than eight in ten (85%) said that it affects their mood; almost three-quarters (72%) said it affects their family life or home responsibilities, and about two-thirds (68%) said it affects their social life.
For those who are employed and report not getting adequate sleep, about three quarters (74%) of those over 30 said that sleepiness affects their work. About two-thirds of adults (61%) said that their intimate or sexual relations were affected by sleepiness (13-18 year olds were not asked this question).
Sleepiness also played a factor in safe driving practices. Half of generation Y`ers (50%) say they drove while drowsy at least once in the past month. More than a third of generation X`ers (40%) and approximately a third of generation Z`ers (30%) and baby boomers (28%) also say so. A staggering number, about one in ten, of generation X`ers (12%), generation Y`ers (12%) and generation Z`ers (8%) say they drive drowsy once or twice a week.
“If you`re having problems sleeping at night, or if you`re feeling too sleepy the next day, take a look at your bedtime habits,” says Allison Harvey, PhD, behavioral sleep expert at UC Berkeley. “Create a relaxing wind-down routine and turn down the lights. Make your bedroom a sanctuary from the worries of your day.”
Healthy Sleep Advice
If you are having problems sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation suggests the following to improve your sleep:
- Set and stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day.
- Expose yourself to bright light in the morning and avoid it at night. Exposure to bright morning light energizes us and prepares us for a productive day. Alternatively, dim your lights when it`s close to bedtime.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise in the morning can help you get the light exposure you need to set your biological clock. Avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime if you are having problems sleeping.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Allow enough time to wind down and relax before going to bed.
- Create a cool, comfortable sleeping environment that is free of distractions. If you`re finding that entertainment or work-related communications are creating anxiety, remove these distractions from your bedroom.
- Treat your bed as your sanctuary from the stresses of the day. If you find yourself still lying awake after 20 minutes or so, get up and do something relaxing in dim light until you are sleepy.
- Keep a “worry book” next to your bed. If you wake up because of worries, write them down with an action plan, and forget about them until morning.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages, chocolate and tobacco at night.
- Avoid large meals and beverages right before bedtime.
- No nightcaps. Drinking alcohol before bed can rob you of deep sleep and can cause you to wake up too early.
- Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medications might be contributing to your sleep problem.
- No late-afternoon or evening naps, unless you work nights. If you must nap, keep it under 45 minutes and before 3:00 pm.
Poll Methodology and Definitions
The National Sleep Foundation began surveying American sleep health and behaviors in 1991. The 2011 Sleep in America® annual poll was conducted for the National Sleep Foundation by WB&A Market Research, using a random sample of 1,508 adults between the ages of 13-64. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
The poll used a validated clinical sleepiness screening tool, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, for all of the participants. The poll also used standard measures to evaluate the next day impact of inadequate sleep to assess mood, family and social life.
Jennifer Cowher Williams
National Sleep Foundation
MONDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) — Sleep tight, but not right after looking at something bright.
That`s the message of a new survey that suggests many Americans might be losing valuable shut-eye because they spend the hour before bedtime in front of the electronic glow of a television, cell phone or computer.
The survey doesn`t prove that exposure to bright light before bed disrupts sleep. But some experts recommend an “electronic curfew” an hour before bedtime, when people should dim lamps and avoid checking their e-mail or watching late-night TV.
“Falling asleep isn`t like flicking a switch. We don`t put our heads on the pillow and fall off to sleep,” said Allison G. Harvey, a sleep specialist and professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. “We take time to wind down at night. If we`ve got bright light conditions, we`re not giving ourselves a chance to get off to sleep and stay asleep.”
The National Sleep Foundation`s annual Sleep in America poll, whose results were released Monday, surveyed 1,508 people between the ages of 13 and 64.
Overall, the survey suggests that a majority of Americans aren`t getting enough sleep: 63 percent said their needs aren`t being met during the week.
Ninety-five percent of those surveyed said they`d used an electronic device — such as a television, computer, video game or cell phone — within the hour before bed at least a few nights a week. About two-thirds of people aged 30 to 64 frequently watch TV in the hour before bed, but only about half of younger people do. Not surprisingly, those under 30 are much more likely than older people to send or receive text messages on their cell phones in the hour before bed.
The problem is that light exposure before sleep can disrupt body rhythms and suppress the release of the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep, Harvey explained.
But does it actually hurt sleep? Harvey said the survey doesn`t prove that. Still, she suspects exposure to light is a problem. “No one`s proven it yet, but it seems more than tempting to speculate fairly strongly,” she noted.
Dr. Matt Travis Bianchi, a sleep specialist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said the issue of light before sleep is complicated: not all kinds of light activate body cycles in the same way, and a little bit of light — such as from a TV at a distance — might still cause a problem.
Also, “we are very different in our sensitivity to light,” he added. “I have on rare occasions had patients who were `light-toxic,` in that if they got bright light late at night they couldn`t sleep at all. Contrast that with patients I have who sleep with the light and TV on routinely, and don`t have much problems that they can feel.”
What can people try to do to sleep better?
Harvey recommends an electronic curfew. Also, “try to stick to a fairly regular wake time, get bright light in the morning and dim light at night, exercise regularly and have a bedtime routine of 30 to 60 minutes when you`re letting yourself wind down,” she suggested.
If you don`t sleep well but can`t bear to tear yourself away from the TV or computer before going to bed, Bianchi recommends trying a pair of “dampening glasses,” which will filter out the most damaging light. You can try them, he said, and see if they make a difference.
He also said people should be aware that it may not be the light of a cell phone or computer that triggers sleep problems. It could be the anxiety produced when you, say, read an e-mail that makes you angry.
For more about understanding sleep, try the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
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Dr. Mladen Golubic – The Cleveland Clinic
Daily variations in natural light and temperature, that are the result of the rotation of our planet, powerfully
influence the biological functions of all life forms, including humans. The luminal contrast between daytime and nighttime, the dynamic range of hunger-satiety cycles and
wide swings in temperatures have been significantly
diminished compared with our ancestors (1). During the day,
when we would normally be exposed to bright light outdoors,
we moved indoors; and during the night, the use of artificial light further narrowed the range of circadian light exposures. This profound change is being increasingly recognized as a source of biologic dysfunctions in multiple organs. For example, photoperiod variations control melatonin secretion from the pineal gland, one of the hormonal master clocks in the body that regulates temporal variations in core body temperature, endocrine, immune and autonomic nervous system functions including sleep. Light exposure, in particular to the frequencies of the blue light (connection to the blue color of the sky?), acts through special nerve cells in retinal photoreceptors to suppress melatonin secretion. With the onset of darkness, melatonin secretion resumes. Compared with dim light, exposure to room light before bedtime suppressed melatonin resulting in later onset and shorter duration of melatonin secretion (2). Using laptops, smart phones or other electronic gadgets prior to sleep may similarly suppress melatonin because of emissions in the blue light spectrum and disrupt not only sleep, but regulation of body temperature,
blood pressure and glucose levels. Spending time in nature,
particularly around the dawn, will not only help synchronize melatonin and other endocrine cycles, but may also improve your overall wellbeing. Meditation and yoga practices are well established ways to increase nocturnal melatonin secretion (3,4,5,6).
1. Yun AJ et al: The dynamic range of biologic functions and variation of many environmental cues may be
declining in the modern age: implications for diseases and therapeutics. Med Hypotheses, 65:173-8, 2005.
2. Gooley JJ et al: Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens
Melatonin Duration in Humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Dec 30. [Epub ahead of print]
3. Massion AO et al: Meditation, melatonin and breast/prostate cancer: hypothesis and preliminary data.
Med Hypotheses, 44:39-46, 1995.
4. Tooley GA et al: Acute increases in night-time plasma melatonin levels following a period of meditation.
Biol Psychol, 3:69-78, 2000.
5. Harinath K et al: Effects of Hatha yoga and Omkar meditation on cardiorespiratory performance,
psychologic profile, and melatonin secretion. J Altern Complement Med, 10:261-8, 2004.
6. Liou CH et al: Detection of nighttime melatonin level in Chinese Original Quiet Sitting. J Formos Med
Assoc, 109:694-701, 2010.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 13, 2011) — According to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society`s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), exposure to electrical light between dusk and bedtime strongly suppresses melatonin levels and may impact physiologic processes regulated by melatonin signaling, such as sleepiness, thermoregulation, blood pressure and glucose homeostasis.
Melatonin is a hormone produced at night by the pineal gland in the brain. In addition to its role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, melatonin has been shown to lower blood pressure and body temperature and has also been explored as a treatment option for insomnia, hypertension and cancer. In modern society, people are routinely exposed to electrical lighting during evening hours to partake in work, recreational and social activities. This study sought to understand whether exposure to room light in the late evening may inhibit melatonin production.
“On a daily basis, millions of people choose to keep the lights on prior to bedtime and during the usual hours of sleep,” said Joshua Gooley, PhD, of Brigham and Women`s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. and lead author of the study. “Our study shows that this exposure to indoor light has a strong suppressive effect on the hormone melatonin. This could, in turn, have effects on sleep quality and the body`s ability to regulate body temperature, blood pressure and glucose levels.”
In this study, researchers evaluated 116 healthy volunteers aged 18-30 years who were exposed to room light or dim light in the eight hours preceding bedtime for five consecutive days. An intravenous catheter was inserted into the forearms of study participants for continuous collection of blood plasma every 30-60 minutes for melatonin measurements. Results showed exposure to room light before bedtime shortened melatonin duration by about 90 minutes when compared to dim light exposure. Furthermore, exposure to room light during the usual hours of sleep suppressed melatonin by greater than 50 percent.
“Given that chronic light suppression of melatonin has been hypothesized to increase relative risk for some types of cancer and that melatonin receptor genes have been linked to type 2 diabetes, our findings could have important health implications for shift workers who are exposed to indoor light at night over the course of many years,” said Gooley. “Further research is still needed to both substantiate melatonin suppression as a significant risk factor for breast cancer and determine the mechanisms by which melatonin regulates glucose metabolism.”
Other researchers working on the study include: Kyle Chamberlain of the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom; and Kurt Smith, Sat Bir Khalsa, Shantha Rajaratnam, Eliza Van Reen, Jamie Zeitzer, Charles Czeisler and Steven Lockley of Brigham and Women`s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass.
Better Sleep with Twilight
By Melanie Grimes, Citizen Journalist, NaturalNews.com
Before the Industrial Revolution, when night arrived, the sky darkened. This was conducive to sleep, and our natural circadian rhythms. With the increased use of electricity and electric lights, we turn our nights into days and prevent sleep. Over two-third of Americans suffer from sleep problems. And medicine has now determined that lose of sleep can lead to depression, diabetes, obesity and cancer. More than half of all alcoholics have sleep issues, begs the question of which came first.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that your body uses to regulate sleep cycles. Melatonin is triggered by exposure to light. The natural rhythms of the day are regulated by the pineal gland in what is called Circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the body`s biological clock. The sensor is in the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN, in the brain. It is made up of 20,000 neurons in the hypothalamus. Signals are sent to the pineal gland when it is exposed to light. Since the body`s natural melatonin production slows in the dark, the advent of darkness triggers the sleep cycle to begin. But, when we keep exposure to lights during dark hours of the night, we interrupt the circadian rhythms, preventing the production of melatonin, upsetting the internal clock and preventing sleep.
By recreating natural twilight, natural sleep can be restored. Dim the lights around the home a few hours before bedtime. If this is not possible, at least one hour before sleep, turn off the television, dim the lights and prevent exposure to bright lights. This will begin the trigger to your pineal gland that night is setting in. Lights with less of the blue color are also helpful, as they do not suppress melatonin. Manufactures are now making lights with these specifications. The new blue blocking technology of these lights aids natural melatonin production.
It is also a good idea to remove televisions and computers from the bedroom, so that you become programmed to sleep when you enter that sanctuary. Cool temperatures also encourage deep sleep.
To further encourage healing sleep, darken the windows and the sound in the bedroom. The light that enters from windows is just as damaging to the internal clock as electric light from within. Your bedroom should be as dark and quiet as possible, so that your sleep and dreams are undisturbed.
If you wake in the middle of the night, do not despair. This is a normal sleep pattern. Before the Industrial Revolution, sleep was known to have two halves. The first few hours were called, First Sleep, followed by an intermission of sorts, called Sleep Watching. Then the final stage of sleep, or Second Sleep occurred. If you wake in the middle of the night, maintain the darkness. Do not turn on lights, or use the computer or television. Let you mind wander and drift back to restful darkened sleep.
Some sleep doctors feel that we are afraid of sleep because we fear our Jungian shadow-selves. Perhaps that has created a society that is afraid of the dark and maintains a constant nightlight to light dark passageways.
Restore twilight in your life, dream big dreams, and let your inner light shine.
By Marie Gerber at www.helium.com
Many people struggle with insomnia and sleep disturbances for a variety of different reasons. Certain health problems, environmental issues (such as a snoring partner) and even diet and exercise habits can lead to less-than-restorative sleep.
Unfortunately, the more you worry about your lack of quality sleep, the more elusive it can become. Many people become desperate in this situation and turn to unnatural and addictive sleeping pills in an effort to help them get the sleep that they crave. However, sleeping pills, even when prescribed by a doctor, often have harmful side effects and can easily become habit forming.
Thankfully, there are ways to help regulate your sleep cycle naturally, without the use of any drugs. Proper diet and exercise are helpful of course, but if you are suffering from insomnia or your sleep/wake cycle is severely “out of whack”, this might not be enough.
To cure my tendency to stay up all night and sleep away most of the day (an annoying side effect of the lifestyle of a freelance writer), I recently invested in a pair of “Zzz Glasses” from LowBlueLights.com and was surprised by the intensity of the results. I read about Low Blue Lights Eyewear in an issue of a recent magazine and knew that I had to try them.
The idea behind this technology was developed by a group of scientists at Photonic Developments LLC, who have found that the color and amount of light in your environment can have a significant effect on your sleep/wake cycle. If you have trouble sleeping, you’ve probably already heard of melatonin, which is a sleep hormone produced in the body that is responsible for making you drowsy. Because exposure to light hinders your body’s production of this important hormone, it is more likely to be produced in higher doses at night. However, if your production of melatonin is not in synch with your sleep schedule, you are likely to have problems sleeping and waking. It has been found that the blue component of light in particular is most disruptive to the body’s production of the sleep hormone.
The revolutionary Zzz Glasses allow you to control when your eyes are exposed to blue light by wearing them for several hours before you go to sleep. Thanks to special filters that block out only the blue component of the light, you can still perform regular nighttime activities, such as reading, watching television or using your computer while wearing them (I’m wearing mine as we speak).
The immediate effect is drowsiness, because there is nothing to suppress your body’s production of melatonin. I was surprised by how quickly and efficiently the glasses worked, making me drowsy long before I usually started to unwind. The more faithfully I wore them at night, the more the effect seemed to build. As an unexpected side effect, I started waking up earlier in the morning before my alarm went off and feeling more rested throughout the day. When I forgot to pack my glasses for a weekend trip, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my weeks of faithful usage made the positive effects last for several days and nights. Even when I wasn’t able to wear my glasses, I still got drowsy at a more regular hour and woke before my alarm.
However, if you really want to regulate your sleep/wake cycle, you should try to wear the Zzz Glasses every single night and put them on around the same time. When you actually fall asleep and wake up is less important. If you find yourself becoming too drowsy, too early, try putting them on a little later at night. I usually only need to wear them for about an hour at a time to feel the effects. The drowsiness is so significant that you would not want to wear them while driving or operating any sort of machinery.
There are only a few drawbacks to this ingenious sleep-inducing eyewear. For one, you can’t take your glasses off and expose yourself to white light (which contains the blue component), for even five minutes without undoing most all of the good that you’ve done. However, to remedy this, LowBlueLights.com also offers amber-colored bulbs that you can put in your bedroom or bathroom in case you need to take off your glasses for longer than a few moments (say, to wash your face before bed). This typically isn’t a problem for me, as I usually wash my face earlier in the evening before settling in for the night to read or write. I have found the amber bulbs helpful in my bedside lamp however, in case I need to get up in the middle of the night.
If you have white light that filters into your room at night (through windows, doors or electronics), you will have best results if you eliminate this as much as possible. I am unfortunate enough to have a sliding glass door in my bedroom, and wearing the glasses for just a few nights made me realize how much white light was coming into my room from the lights outside. Even though I have seen great results from the Zzz Glasses, I still expect to see even better results when I replace my thin curtains with a thicker, light-blocking variety.
The first night of wearing the glasses seemed a little strange (and got a few laughs from my roommates), but just like with corrective lenses or sunglasses, I quickly adjusted and forgot that I was even wearing them. They have several different styles, and while I like the look of the “Sophisticates” style (which look similar to reading glasses except for the tinted lenses), I found the “Novelists” the most effective at blocking out the most light because they better cover the entire eye area.
For anyone who is having trouble falling asleep at night or wants to develop a healthier sleep/wake cycle, I highly suggest that you try these glasses before turning to sleep-inducing drugs. For full information on all the products, visit LowBlueLights.com.
Blocking the blue light blues: Glasses help wearers get better sleep
Published on Wed 5 Mar 2008
By Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If you have trouble falling asleep at night and find yourself dragging in the mornings, blue-light-blocking glasses could get your body clock back on track.
The amber color of the lenses has been found to shield the eyes from a major culprit in the sleep wars: short-wavelength light, otherwise known as blue light.
The glasses were developed by scientists at LowBlueLights.com, a spinoff of Photonic Developments LLC and its parent, the Lighting Innovations Institute at John Carroll University in Cleveland. They sell for $80 at www.lowbluelights.com.
Physicist Richard Hansler, director of the institute and a founding partner of Photonic Developments, said research has confirmed that eye exposure to blue light suppresses the body`s production of melatonin — that`s a sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland when the eyes are in darkness.
Blue light is a major emanation from television and computer screens, fluorescent light bulbs and, to a lesser extent, incandescent light bulbs. That means people who are glued to the tube, surfing the Web or reading by lamp light late into the night are unwittingly pushing back their body`s “start time” for melatonin production.
“If the eyes are exposed to light at bed time, it will prevent the pineal gland from producing melatonin until you go into darkness,” Dr. Hansler said. “If the light continues for a longer time, it can actually prevent the body from making melatonin that whole night.”
Once the body does begin making the hormone, he said, it normally keeps doing so for seven to eight hours. This is why so many people are dragging in the early mornings, until their eyes are exposed to enough blue light to suppress the melatonin.
Sitting in a darkened room for two hours before bed would help reset the melatonin clock, but that`s an impractical solution for many people.
However, Dr. Hansler said, wearing blue-light-blocking glasses while going about one`s business in the evening would have a similar effect. (The company also sells amber-colored light bulbs and filters that attach to computer and TV screens).
Melatonin production also depends on one other factor, he said — the setting of one`s body clock from the previous night. For that reason, blue-light-blocking measures might take a few days to improve sleep. But once a rhythm is established, he said, most people will sleep better at night.
By Richard L. Hansler, PhD
Bright Light, Big Cancer” (Science News Online, January 7, 2006) and “The Light-Cancer Con-nection” (Prevention Magazine January 2006) are titles of recent articles that warn of the danger of using artificial light at night. Warnings actually go back to the 1990s when scientists discovered that blind people have only half the risk of cancer as do their sighted counterparts. There is not only the epidemiological evidence – such as the increased incidence of breast cancer in nurses working night shifts – but there is also experimental evidence from many studies conducted with animals that show a correlation between artificial light and cancer. In this study tumors grew rapidly in animals that were raised with short nights (more artificial light) while tumors did not grow (or grew slowly) in animals raised with long nights (less artificial light).
Using light at night may be hazardous to one`s health due to nerves that run from special sensors in the retina of the eye that are connected to the pineal gland. The pineal gland produces melatonin, an important cancer-fighting hormone produced only when the eyes are in darkness. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that counteracts the damaging effects of free radicals produced by radiation and chemical pollutants. Melatonin also blunts the cancer-promoting nature of estrogen, and interferes with the metabolism of materials that feed cancer cells.
By shortening the length of time we spend in darkness, the length of time that melatonin is produced and present in the blood is reduced. Studies show that primitive societies that experience longer periods of darkness due to the absence of artificial lighting show a much lower incidence of cancer. Of course, there are other variables when comparing sophisticated nations and primitive cultures, but mounting evidence shows a correlation between the use of artificial light and increased health risks.
Without artificial light every place on earth would, on average, experience 12 hours of darkness each night. Recent studies at Harvard found that blind people (who are always in darkness) produce melatonin for 9-10 hours a night. Sighted people who were kept in darkness produce melatonin for the same period of time. Thanks to artificial lighting, most Americans are in darkness for only 7-8 hours a night, reducing their melatonin production time to only 6-7 hours each night. As mentioned previously, blind people have a 50 percent less risk of developing cancer.
It should be noted that melatonin is not the only hormone produced by the pineal gland. Pineal-gland production is more complex and includes other secretions. It is yet to be determined whether these secretions also play a significant role in fighting cancer. This may be why simply taking melatonin orally does not appear to be as effective as the body`s making its own.
A definitive experiment recently was completed by highly experienced scientists, Dr. George Brainard, a neurology professor and the director of the Light Research Group at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Dr. David Blask, a researcher at the Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, NY, and their associates. They examined blood drawn from women under three different conditions: during the day when melatonin was not present in the blood, during the darkness of night when melatonin was present and during the night when the women had been exposed to several hours of light. Melatonin was not present in the last group of women. In another phase of the research this blood was then supplied to human breast tumors growing on rats. This resulted in the tumors growing rapidly. Supplying the tumors with blood with melatonin resulted in slower growth or none at all. Dr. Blask commented that melatonin-rich blood, “put the tumors to sleep.”
What can be done with this knowledge? Since it seems unlikely that we will not soon give up using electric lights, it is especially encouraging to know that about five years ago it was discovered that not all spectrums of light suppress melatonin production. Only light in the blue end of the visible spectrum causes suppression, so blocking the blue light alleviates the problem. In practical use, other “colors” of light are okay to use for reading, watching television or working on a computer. This dynamic was first demonstrated at the University of Toronto when subjects working a simulated night shift wore goggles that blocked the blue light. The subjects continued making melatonin even though they were in brightly-lit surroundings.
The Lighting Research Institute at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, has developed light bulbs of various types with coatings that block blue light. There also are filters for television and computer screens and even eyeglasses that block the melatonin-suppressing blue light. People can wear these glasses a few hours before bedtime. Combining this “virtual darkness” with darkness experienced during sleep, the 9-10 hours of melatonin flow may be obtained that, hopefully, will reduce the risk of cancer.
There is another huge extra benefit to blocking blue light. Not only is melatonin a cancer-fighting hormone, it also is the sleep hormone. Melatonin in the blood makes us drowsy and wanting to drop off to sleep. Wearing glasses that block blue light a few hours before bedtime allows melatonin to be present in quantity at bedtime. Sleep comes very quickly, and people who have used the glasses report sleeping more. With 46 million prescriptions written last year for sleeping pills, the use of blue-blocking glasses may be a better method of treating insomnia, without the harmful side effects that drugs can cause.
Dr. Hansler graduated from the University of Chicago and received a Ph.D. in physics from Ohio State University. Since his retirement from GE in 1996, he has served as the director of the Lighting Innovations Institute at John Carroll University. He also is the executive director of the Light and Health Foundation. For more information, please visit www.sleepglasses.com, www.lowbluelights.com or www.lightinginnovations.net. Dr. Hansler may be reached by calling (216) 397-1657 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
MedicalNewsToday.com, February 9, 2007
It is obvious that young children who have difficulties sleeping are likely to have problems in school. A new study shows that African-American children and children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds fare worse than their counterparts when their sleep is disrupted.
The study offers one of the first demonstrations that the relationship between children`s performance and sleep may differ among children of different backgrounds. Conducted by researchers at Auburn University and Notre Dame University, it is published in the January/February 2007 issue of the journal Child Development.
The study looked at 166 8- and 9-year-old African-American and European-American children from varying socioeconomic backgrounds. The children`s sleep habits were measured through wristwatch-sized activity monitors they wore during sleep for one week, sleep diaries of bedtimes and wake-up times, and reports of sleep quality and sleep-related problems such as sleepiness during the day. The children also were given individual cognitive tests measuring a range of mental functions related to school achievement.
When children`s socioeconomic status was taken into consideration, African-American and European-American children`s performance on cognitive tests was similar when they slept well, the study found. But when sleep was disrupted, African-American children`s performance was worse. Similarly, children from lower and higher socioeconomic backgrounds performed similarly on tests when they slept well and their sleep schedules were consistent. But when their sleep was disrupted, children from higher-income homes did better than children from lower-income homes. The study did not address why African-American children and youngsters from lower-income homes may be more vulnerable to the effects of sleep disruption.
“The results build on a small but growing literature demonstrating that poorer sleep in children is associated with lower performance on school-related tests,” says Joseph A. Buckhalt, lead author of the study and Wayne T. Smith Distinguished Professor at Auburn University. “The findings are consistent with the idea that health-related disparities between different groups of American children have important consequences. In the context of these disparities, children are not at equal risk for cognitive difficulties when sleep is disrupted.”
The study was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Summarized from Child Development, Vol. 78, Issue 1, Children`s Sleep and Cognitive Functioning: Race and Socioeconomic Status as Moderators of Effects by Buckhalt, JA, and El-Sheikh, M (Auburn University), and Keller, P (Notre Dame University). Copyright 2007 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.
Contact: Andrea Browning
Society for Research in Child Development
Article URL: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=62531
Advancing the circadian rhythm has been shown to improve both objective and subjective measures of ADHD symptoms. University scientists have developed special glasses that block the blue rays that cause a delay in the start of the flow of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Putting on the glasses a couple of hours ahead of bedtime eliminates this delay thereby advancing the circadian rhythm.
University Heights, OH February 6, 2007 PRWebb: Recent studies at the University of Toronto have shown that moving the start of the flow of melatonin to an earlier hour resulted in a marked improvement in both objective and subjective measures of ADHD symptoms. Twenty-nine adults with DSM-4 ADHD were studied in a 3-week trial. Primary outcome measures included percent reduction on the Brown Adult ADD Scale and the Conners’ Adult ADHD Scale. The strongest correlation was between improvement in these scores and the advance in the circadian rhythm.
Scientists at John Carroll University working in the Lighting Innovations Institute have discovered a means to advance the circadian rhythm without the use of any drugs or the bright lights used in the above mentioned study. There is concern that using the lights to advance the circadian rhythm may have the potential to damage the retina. The new approach developed at JCU is to block the blue component in ordinary light that causes delay in the start of the melatonin flow. Normally it doesn’t start until after the individual goes into darkness. By wearing blue-blocking glasses a couple of hours before bedtime, the melatonin can begin to flow at an earlier hour. This is the advance in the circadian rhythm that gave the marked improvement of symptoms of ADHD. An alternative to the blue-blocking glasses has been developed in the form of light bulbs with coatings that block the blue light. Instead of putting on glasses, the individual may simply turn off ordinary lights and turn on the ones with the filters that remove the blue rays. Major use of these devices has been to provide better sleep, avoid postpartum depression, avoid SAD and reduce the risk of cancer. A spin-off company makes these new products available on a website www.lowbluelights.com.
Contact Richard L. Hansler, Ph.D.
TOO BLUE? Some researchers worry that excessive exposure to blue light can disturb sleep, negatively affecting our health
Published: Tuesday, November 7, 2006
By Mike Lafferty
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Sleep experts and scientists who study the circadian rhythms that regulate our bodies are concerned about the amount of blue light we`re exposed to each day. What they say:
* Exposing animals to light at night clears the melatonin from their bodies in about 10 minutes.
* It takes only a little blue light to suppress melatonin production.
* Reading before bed is the worst thing you can do, unless you wear lenses that block blue light.
* To get a good night`s sleep, go to bed earlier. And don`t flip on the lights if you have to get up in the middle of the night.
Like many other older people, Jane Moulton tossed and turned for years.
“I tried sleeping pills. They would put me to sleep but I would be groggy the next day. I was willing to try anything,” said Moulton, of Aurora, southeast of Cleveland in Portage County. In June of 2004, Moulton slumped into a chair in front of Dr. Tanya Edwards, an alternative-medicine and sleep specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Edwards prescribed several things, including melatonin, a hormone the brain releases to help you fall asleep.
Then two months ago, Edwards told Moulton to try a pair of glasses that filter blue light, which research shows interrupts natural melatonin production.
Moulton, who didn`t want her age published, said she wore the glasses for about two hours before going to bed.
“They worked the very first night. I slept for eight hours,” she said.
Edwards said two other patients have had similar success.
Blue light is a component of visible light, or white light, and is a key part of our biological clocks.
But medical researchers are increasingly concerned that the amount some people are exposed to might be a problem.
Our go-go society is not only physically wearing on us, it might be fatal. Some researchers are concerned we are exposed to too much blue light, especially from fluorescent lights and television and computer screens.
“It`s a lifestyle that pushes us beyond what our bodies are designed to deal with, with respect for our inherent need for sleep and the need to rise at a certain time,” said Ohio State University neuroscientist Karl Obrietan.
Obrietan, who studies the effects of circadian rhythms in cells, said high blood pressure, abnormal pituitary hormone secretions and other physiological problems have been connected to disrupted biological clocks.
Melatonin is found in all forms of life, from single-celled algae to people.
In humans, it not only helps regulate sleep, it apparently is a powerful antioxidant that inhibits cancer cells.
Experiments with mice, published in December in the journal Cancer Research, indicate that implanted human breast-cancer cells grew faster when melatonin was suppressed and exposure to light was increased at night.
Melatonin blocks tumor cells from using linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat found in fatty foods that boosts tumor growth.
In 2001, the Nurses Health Study, which has tracked the health of more than 78,000 women for decades, showed those who worked nights for 30 or more years (and therefore relied on fluorescent lights) had a 38 percent higher rate of breast cancer.
Other large shift-work studies also have shown higher rates of cancer.
“The evidence is limited, but overwhelming in support,” said Richard Stevens, a cancer researcher at the University of Connecticut.
An estimated 15 million people in the United States work at night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
“We`re surrounding ourselves with lights that don`t look anything like the sun. The spectrum and intensity are different,” Stevens said.
The blue-light connection came out of studies of how light resets the body`s circadian clock. Researchers found that natural light affects the suprachiasmatic nuclei, a group of neurons on each side of the forefront of the brain that regulate the brain`s production of melatonin. This group of neurons is the body`s master clock.
In 2001, George Brainard, a scientist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, reported that blue light between about 460 and 480 nano-meters (the color of the sky on a sunny day about midmorning) is most potent.
“It seems like the blue spectrum is the most biologically affective spectrum the human eye can detect,” said Dr. Rami Khayat, who treats sleep disorders at Ohio State University Medical Center.
Once melatonin production begins, it builds up until it reaches a point where a feedback mechanism instructs the body to stop production. Normally melatonin circulates in the bloodstream, rising in the evening and dropping by early morning.
“Light entrains our rhythms. It`s an adaptation humans developed over thousands of years. We need to be awake when it`s light and asleep when it`s dark,” Khayat said.
“Down to the very cell, we are all affected by light. The cell almost wakes you up and does things and goes to sleep.”
Exactly when a person is exposed to blue light also is important.
Exposure earlier in the day seems to help sleep later, while exposure before bed, say by watching television or working at a computer, can keep people, such as Moulton, from sleep.
While the sleep connection is important, cancer researchers want to know more about melatonin and its role.
Between 1987 and 2002, breast-cancer rates increased an average of 3 percent a year, according to the American Cancer Society.
And industrialized nations have breast-cancer rates about five times those of nonindustrialized nations.
“Diet doesn`t explain the big jump,” Stevens said. “What else changes with industrialization? Lighting is obvious.”
Stevens said a new Japanese study indicates a higher risk of prostate cancer in male night-shift workers. Scientists also are searching for a connection to childhood leukemia.
Last year, Harvard scientists reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that women with higher levels of melatonin in their urine had lower breast-cancer rates.
And in 2005, scientists in Finland reported in Cancer Research that breast cancer was more common in women who slept less than nine hours a night than for women who had more sleep.
In 1999, Stevens reported in the British J ournal of Cancer that blind people have about 50 percent fewer breast cancers than the sighted.
“Blind people make melatonin for nine or 10 hours a night. That`s what all of us would do if we were in darkness for that long,” said Richard Hansler, a researcher at the Lighting Innovations Institute at John Carroll University in Cleveland.
“When we evolved, we were experiencing maybe 12 hours of darkness a night. In primitive countries that`s still the case. They have much less cancer than in developed countries.”
A Safer Way to Treat Seasonally Affective Disorder SAD
The blue rays in the light sources used to treat SAD produce a non-zero risk to the retina (macular degeneration). By advancing the circadian cycle by wearing blue-blocking glasses in the early evening, the melatonin cycle may be made to finish before the individual awakens. With melatonin gone, the patient feels awake and not depressed.
University Heights, OH (PRweb) September 14, 2006. Exposing the eyes to light in the morning has become the standard treatment for SAD. Five years ago it was found that it is the blue rays that are most effective in suppressing melatonin and devices that only produce blue light are now available. It is still the blue rays from the white light sources that are producing the effect. This is not without some risk. The blue light is known to cause damage to the retina which ultimately may result in macular degeneration and partial blindness. The risk is small but not zero. Because this process is believed to be photochemical in nature rather than thermal, there is no completely safe level. In photochemical reactions each photon is capable of breaking a chemical bond and doing its damage. In thermal damage it requires many photons arriving at a certain rate to raise the temperature of the cells enough to cause permanent damage. The blue light damage is thus dependent on how many of the blue photons have arrived at the retina over a long period of time.
It is believed by some that the basic cause of SAD is the presence of melatonin in the blood which makes the individual feel sleepy and depressed. The successful treatment with blue light that causes suppression of melatonin supports this view.
This new treatment for SAD is completely free from the retinal hazard of blue light. It depends on advancing the melatonin cycle so that it finishes before the individual awakens. This is made possible by donning blue-blocking glasses in the early evening. After doing this regularly for several consecutive days, the melatonin cycle will be advanced in time. Many studies have shown that the melatonin cycle will not last more than 9 or 10 hours even when no light is present to suppress it, e.g. blind people. If the glasses are put on regularly at 9 P.M., the cycle will start by no later than 10 P.M. and finish no later than 8 A.M. If this is not early enough, the glasses may be put on at 8 P.M. to finish the cycle by 7 A.M. Since the glasses only block the blue light, the other colors of light are available for reading, watching television or working on a computer. Glasses that block the light causing melatonin suppression are available at www.lowbluelights.com.
In addition to being the sleep hormone, melatonin is also a powerful cancer fighter. Restoring the flow of melatonin to 9 or 10 hours from the 6 or 7 experienced by most Americans may provide more time for melatonin to destroy the beginnings of a tumor. Blind people with their 9-10 hour flow of melatonin have only half the risk for cancer.
Richard L. Hansler Ph.D.
216 397 1657
IAN JOHNSTONSCIENCE CORRESPONDENT
WOMEN who sleep less than five hours a night are more likely to be become over-weight and obese, according to a study in the United States.
Researchers tracked nearly 70,000 middle-aged women involved in the Nurses Health Study for 16 years, recording their weight every two years.
Those who slept for about five hours a night were 32 per cent more likely to gain 33lb in weight or more, and 15 per cent more likely to become obese over the course of the study, which was by far the largest of its kind.
It had been suggested previously that people who sleep less compensate by eating more, but analysis of the data found that they ate less. The scientists also discounted physical activity as a reason to explain why women who slept less weighed more.
They said further research into the cause of this apparent effect was needed, but suggested sleeping less may affect the body`s metabolic rate or that it made people move around less during the day, burning fewer calories.
Professor Sanjay Patel, of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, who was the lead author of a report presented to the American Thoracic Society International Conference yesterday, said: “There have been a number of studies that have shown that at one point in time, people who sleep less weigh more, but this is one of the first to show reduced sleep increases the risk of gaining weight over time.”
Prof Patel said the researchers had not established a causal link between getting less sleep and putting on weight. “We don`t have an answer from this study about why reduced sleep causes weight gain, but there are some possibilities that deserve further study,” he said. “Sleeping less may effect changes in a person`s basal metabolic rate – the number of calories you burn when you rest.
“Another contributor to weight regulation that has recently been discovered is non-exercise associated thermogenesis, which refers to involuntary activity, such as fidgeting or standing instead of sitting,” Prof Patel went on.
“It may be that if you sleep less, you move around less, too, and therefore burn up fewer calories.”
Dr Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, described the findings as “extraordinary”.
He continued: “It does surprise me. I would have thought those who sleep less would use more calories.
“It is an interesting study and one we have to look very hard at.”
However, Dr Waine said that those people who were looking to lose weight should address their diet and exercise habits first before considering the effect of sleep.
“I would say they`d want to think more about their activity patterns and their patterns of eating as well,” Dr Waine said.
“If you have a big main meal then go to sleep, you have no chance to use any of those calories.”
Chagrin Valley Times Apr. 20, 2006
Scientists Originate Glasses to Aid Sleep
Strange as it may seem, the main reason many people have trouble sleeping has nothing to do with what they ate or how soft or hard their bed may be. It may be because their eyes were exposed to light in the hours before they went to bed. The body makes a hormone called melatonin that helps us sleep. When the eyes are exposed to light the pineal gland that makes the melatonin shuts down. It isn’t until we are in the dark that the gland starts putting out melatonin. This is why it sometimes takes a long time after we go to a darkened bedroom before sleep arrives. This is why reading in bed until we feel sleepy may not work. The light reflected from the book is enough to prevent the flow of melatonin.
It was only four years ago that it was discovered that not all colors of light were equally effective in shutting down the pineal gland. It was found that it is the blue component in white light that causes suppression of melatonin. Yellow, orange and red light has no effect on the pineal gland. This is a very valuable piece of information. This means we can use these other colors of light to read or watch television without interfering with our sleep. This is the basis of the invention.
Three scientists, Hansler, Carome and Kubulins, working in the Lighting Innovations Institute at John Carroll University had been working on developing a blue light to treat the condition called SAD, Seasonally Affective Disorder. This condition is more commonly called the ‘winter blues’, in which people feel depresses by the lack of sunshine. This condition is believed to be due to too much melatonin being present in the morning. Exposing the eyes to light, especially blue light stops the flow of melatonin and the person gradually feels better. We reasoned that if that worked, then turning-on the pineal gland by blocking the blue light would have the reverse effect and help people sleep.
Dr. Richard Hansler is a resident of Pepper Pike and worked at GE’s Nela Park for 42 years developing new and better light bulbs. Dr. Carome, a resident of Beachwood is a retired professor of physics who taught at JCU for more than 30 years. Vilnis Kubulins holds a MS degree from JCU and has worked as a Research Associate for 14 years. The main activity of the Institute has been developing state-of-the-art airport runway approach lights for the FAA and for Siemens Airfield Solutions in Columbus. Students assist in the research and development projects. They frequently carry out research projects for Fiberstars that recently moved their headquarters from California to Solon.
The JCU researchers approached the sleep problem in two ways. Developing eyeglasses in which the lenses filtered out the blue light was one approach. The second approach was to put the filters on the surface of light bulbs. They found they could do this for both incandescent and fluorescent lamps. They also devised filters to cover TV and computer screens. By putting on the glasses a few hours before bedtime or equipping the area with lighting that does not contain any blue light, the pineal gland may begin producing melatonin. In this way there is a good supply by the time the head hits the pillow.
The next question was how could they get these products to people who were having trouble sleeping. They formed a spin-off company, Photonic Developments LLC. The results from the first few months of sales have been very encouraging with even some with chronic sleep problems finding they are able to sleep after using the glasses during the evening.
The simplest way to enhance sleep is to put on the glasses a few hours before bedtime. After a few days the body will readjust so the melatonin is present well in advance of going to bed. This results in falling asleep more quickly, sleeping more soundly and feeling more refreshed upon awakening. An alternate method is to install the special light bulbs in the rooms occupied during the evening and to provide filters for the TV and computer screens.
It is important, in any case, to avoid even brief exposure to white light. If people find they fall asleep before they are ready, they can delay putting on the glasses until closer to bedtime.
University Heights, Ohio. January 20, 2006. New eyeglasses that block the blue light that causes melatonin suppression, can allow travel to a distant place without the disruptive effects of jet lag. The traveler must start adapting to the new time zone a few days before departure. For traveling east, put on the glasses an hour before normal bed time the first night, two hours before the second night etc. For traveling west, starting a few days before departure, put on the glasses for an hour when you arise on the first day, for two hours the second, etc. To be effective, the glasses must block all the blue light and must prevent white light from leaking in around the sides. Glasses that have been measured to assure complete blockage of the melatonin suppressing light are available at www.lowbluelights.com. A good general rule is to start in advance of departure one day for each time zone you are crossing.
Not getting enough sleep, scientists say, lowers leptin, which suppresses appetite.
By Associated Press
Published November 17, 2004
LAS VEGAS – Weight-loss experts have a novel prescription for people who want to shed pounds: Get some sleep.
A large study has found a surprisingly strong link between the amount of shut-eye people get and their risk of becoming obese.
Those who got less than four hours of sleep a night were 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who got the recommended seven to nine hours of rest, scientists discovered. Those who averaged five hours of sleep had 50 percent greater risk, and those who got six hours had 23 percent more.
“Maybe there`s a window of opportunity for helping people sleep more, and maybe that would help their weight,” said Dr. Steven Heymsfield of Columbia University and St. Luke`s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.
He and James Gangwisch, a Columbia epidemiologist, led the study and are presenting results this week at a meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity.
They used information on about 18,000 adults participating in the federal government`s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey throughout the 1980s. The survey includes long-term followup information on health habits, and researchers adjusted it to take into account other things that affect the odds of obesity, like exercise habits, so the effects of sleep could be isolated.
It seems “somewhat counterintuitive” that sleeping more would prevent obesity because people burn fewer calories when they`re resting, Gangwisch said.
But they also eat when they`re awake, and the effect of chronic sleep deprivation on the body`s food-seeking circuitry is what specialists think might be making the difference in obesity risks.
“There`s growing scientific evidence that there`s a link between sleep and the various neural pathways that regulate food intake,” Heymsfield said.
Sleep deprivation lowers leptin, a blood protein that suppresses appetite and seems to affect how the brain senses when the body has had enough food. Sleep deprivation also raises levels of grehlin, a substance that makes people want to eat.
And it hurts “executive function” – the ability to make clear decisions, said Dr. Philip Eichling, a sleep and weight-loss specialist at the University of Arizona who also is medical director of the Canyon Ranch, a spa in Tucson that offers health and weight management programs, especially for business executives.
“One of my treatments is to tell them they should move from six hours to seven hours of sleep. When they`re less sleepy, they`re less hungry,” he said.
Eichling had no role in the new study, but said it gives important evidence for a long-suspected theory in the field.
Americans average only a little more than six hours of sleep a night, and one report a few years ago even suggested the growing prevalence of sleep deprivation might be responsible for the growing obesity epidemic, he said.
Melatonin is an important hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Since its identification in 1958, studies have shown that melatonin actually regulates many of the other hormones in the body. These hormones control our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour patterns that our bodies respond to every day. The release of melatonin is stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light, so it helps control when we sleep and when we wake. Melatonin also controls the timing and release of female reproductive hormones, affecting menstrual cycles, menarche, and menopause. Overall levels of melatonin in the body also respond to the process of aging. Children have the highest levels of nocturnal melatonin; as adults age, their nocturnal melatonin levels get lower and lower, which means they go to sleep and wake up earlier, and may suffer from disrupted sleep patterns.
We hear a lot about Melatonin these days—but how do we separate the hype from the facts? Melatonin has been promoted as a mood enhancer, as a powerful anti-oxidant, as a longevity miracle drug, and—last but not least—as a sleep aid.
Of the four qualities listed above, only one has earned significant scientific concensus: melatonin is a remarkable sleep aid, whose uses only are beginning to be appreciated. But let’s start with the facts.
Melatonin has been called the body`s own natural sleeping pill. It plays a key role in the sleep cycle by helping you fall asleep. Low melatonin levels can cause sleep-onset insomnia.
This is how our body utilize melatonin in controlling our sleep:
- The body changes serotonin into melatonin.
- Melatonin is stored in the pineal gland inside the brain.
- The pineal gland releases melatonin only during times when the level of light is low. Practically speaking, this means that melatonin is secreted only at night, while you are asleep. In the morning, when you open your eyes, the presence of light is a sign to your brain to shut down the melatonin production.
The pineal gland is like a “third eye”, a small organ hidden within the brain. Hindu philosophy refers to a “third eye” that “sees” more deeply and truly than the other two. One of the jobs of pineal gland is to respond to changes in light and dark.