Artificial light is toxic to human biology and mental states
by: PF Louis
(NaturalNews) Various forms of artificial lighting that we depend on contain larger amounts of the blue spectrum than does natural sunlight, which contains the full color spectrum of light. The blue spectrum within artificial lighting is called blue light. Normal incandescent light bulbs emit the least blue light, while fluorescent, LED and other energy-saving lamps with mercury gases are worse.
Blue light is necessary for half a day. It is contained in sunlight and is also part of the “get up and go” associated with daytime activity. It’s what gets plants to open up and see the light, and it signals specific cellular metabolic reactions in our bodies.
Let’s not forget our computer screens’ emissions as well. Computer screens, TVs and iPads emit more blue light than most other forms of artificial lighting. Many of us spend considerable time at night with our faces close to blue-light-emitting electronic devices.
Being exposed to blue light after the sun goes down has its negative consequences, such as circadian confusion and other metabolic mix-ups that send confused signals throughout the body. The phenomena of blue light’s effects on humans, animals, and plants are being looked into by researchers at Southern Methodist University (SMU) now.
“As a society, we are using more technology, and there’s increasing evidence that artificial light has had a negative consequence on our health,” said Brian Zoltowski, lead assistant professor in SMU’s Department of Chemistry and lead blue light researcher.
What the SMU research is up to
There have been other studies on blue light’s effects on our metabolic circadian clocks and melatonin levels in the past, including one from Harvard and another from the University of Toronto. Time for a brief explanation of circadian rhythms or “clocks”:
“A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological, or behavioural processes of living entities on Earth, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria,” according to Princeton.edu.
Most of us have considered that our circadian clocks are located solely in the brain. But today’s science tells us that each one of our cells contains its own circadian clock. This explains older therapies’ efficacy using sunlight exposure for TB and cancer patients.
The Toronto study discovered that melatonin levels, the sleep hormone that’s disrupted by the blue spectrum from daylight and artificial light, was the same with people who endured dim artificial lighting as those who exposed themselves to strong artificial lighting while wearing blue blocker goggles.
If working on your computer at night while wearing blue blocker shades is possible, therein lies at least a partial solution. Since the red spectrum of natural sunlight is strongest at dusk, offering a prelude to slowing down for sleep, the Harvard study recommended using red lights as night lights, which have a less disruptive dynamic against our circadian clocks and melatonin levels.
The Harvard study also recommends leaving the use of computers, TVs and other electronic devices behind a couple of hours before going to bed. Ayurveda and other traditional medicinal systems recommend eating the largest meal during daylight hours to promote optimal digestion.
The difference with the SMU research program and others is that the lab boys at SMU are expanding blue light and red light influences within intracellular biochemical activities, not only for human health but also to seek answers for fungus solutions in agriculture.
The other studies involved behavioral observations among humans instead of closely analyzing biochemical influences of lighting.
Several studies have reported associations of abnormal circadian rhythms with depression, bipolar disorders, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and, the most obvious, seasonal affective disorder, which as a mild form of low-level depression leads to winter-time blues in northern areas that have longer nights.
The SMU study is hoping to contribute toward pharmaceutical solutions that can counteract those abnormalities and lead to those diseases. Too bad. We can do with less pharmaceuticals as well as less artificial lighting.
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