Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blue Light Special

Light therapy is being researched more and more. One of the theories on depression is that a lack of sunlight causes a failure of the pineal gland to produce serotonin in the morning which prevents the shut down of melatonin, leaving people more sluggish during the day, more prone to pain and then unable to sleep at night. We spend our lives inside watching tv, in front of a computer screen at home and at work, artificial lighting in our closed buildings with reinforced glass and we travel in cars with treated windows and where sunglasses that block all bright light. Add in no regular exercise, bad food choices and you have a depression cocktail. Our ancestors were outdoors most of the time and seemed more capable of resonding to life's more trying aspects. Hmmm.
ABC News: 'Blue Light' Could Keep You Awake and Alert: "Subjects exposed to blue light were able to sustain a high level of alertness during the night when people usually feel most sleepy, and these results suggest that light may be a powerful countermeasure for the negative effects of fatigue for people who work at night,' said Dr. Steven Lockley, the lead author of the study and a researcher in Brigham and Women's Hospital's Division of Sleep Medicine.

Lockley said the results could help those who need to sustain alertness for long periods of time, such as long-distance drivers, pilots or astronauts, as well as shift workers.

Eye Used for More Than Sight

Until recently, it was thought that the eye was simply used to see objects. Brigham and Women's Hospital's researchers and others have shown that it is also used to detect light for other purposes, such as resetting the body clock to the 24-hour day. This photoreceptor system is different from that used in normal vision as it has a different sensitivity to the color of light and is retained in some totally blind people.

But several sleep specialists say that therapeutic use of blue light needs more study."
Of course it does, and as soon as they can put it in a pill that has side effects they will treat certain diseases with the color of the pill.

I wonder what the rate of clinical depression is in blind people.

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