Having trouble sleeping at night? Would you like to be more relaxed at night? Consider taking your circadian rhythm into account and be mindful of how to keep your circadian clock regulated. The health benefits of lighting is enormous and can play an important part in your sleeping patterns.
As described by the National Sleep Foundation, “your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. Your circadian rhythm works best when you have regular sleep habits, like going to bed at night and waking up in the morning around the same times from day to day (including weekends). When things get in the way, like jet lag, daylight savings time, or a compelling sporting event on TV that keeps you up into the wee hours of the morning, you can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which makes you feel out of sorts and can make it harder to pay attention.”
So, if you have trouble paying attention at school / work or even at home, you might want to think about adjusting your sleeping patterns.
Electronic devices give off blue light wavelengths, and these disrupt your circadian rhythm as the receptors in your eyes are stimulated. These receptors send a strong signal to your body that it is daytime, tricking you into staying alert and productive, when at night you should be unwinding and relaxing. Exposure to light also affects the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and blue light is especially disruptive when it comes to this.
Scientists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young researched circadian rhythm and discovered there were three genes that keep the circadian clock in sync. These genes are the ‘period’ gene, the ‘timeless’ gene, and the ‘doubletime’ gene. Each gene produces a protein, and these proteins work together to regulate the circadian rhythm.
The ‘period’ gene produces the protein PER, the ‘timeless’ gene produces the protein TIM, and the ‘doubletime’ gene produces the protein DBT.
PER accumulates in the nucleus of the cell and it also prevents the ‘period’ gene from producing more PER and then degrades during the day. TIM is responsible for moving the PER to the nucleus, and DBT delays the accumulation of PER.
The function of these three genes is vital as the circadian clock is in control of regulating important body functions, for example, behaviour, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature, blood pressure and metabolism. If the circadian rhythm is disturbed, any of these functions could potentially be thrown off, impacting health and wellbeing, and in some cases, could lead to diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
The concept of bio-adaptive lighting is to provide controlled artificial light that matches the needs of circadian rhythms in the most effective and appropriate way. It improves health and wellbeing and assists aspects of human behaviour that benefit from varied and changeable lighting. As well as the improvement of circadian rhythm, in 2010 studies have also shown that different coloured lighting had positive effects on children, seeing an improvement in various physical, psychological and performance outcomes.
Naturally, the healthiest way to regulate your circadian rhythm is by being exposed to bright daytime light as this will boost your mood and attentiveness, as well as making it easier for you to sleep at night. Alongside this, coming off electronic devices at least two to three hours before bed as this will help regulate your natural body clock and help you to unwind, as your brain will not be trying to keep you alert and focused.