Artificial illumination can stop us sleeping and make us ill. We need fresh strategies and technologies, argues Karolina M. Zielinska-Dabkowska.
Life on Earth evolved in day-and-night cycles. Plants and animals, including insects such as the fruit fly, have a biological clock that controls their circadian rhythms — as the 2017 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine showed. Now, humans’ increasing reliance on artificial lighting is changing those rhythms1.
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For all these reasons, I still use the old incandescent light sources in my home, sleep in complete darkness and spend at least one hour each morning in bright daylight to activate my circadian clock — as do many lighting designers, physicians and chronobiologists. It is imperative that we return to the bright day and dark night cycle that evolution engraved in us.
For millennia we have gathered round a fire at night and gazed into the warm red flames. Now we gather round a cool white LED fire bursting with blue light.
TV manufacturers have been making their TVs as bright and as blue as possible. Our brains perceive blue light as brighter and it is more engaging. It makes our brain think that it is still day time so it suppresses our night time physiology which is awash with the most potent antioxidant melatonin.
There is now a colour temperature adjust setting which manufacturers leave preset at the bluest or coolest setting 10,000K+. Despite the fact that 6500K is considered daylight by industry standards on some televisions this is considered ‘warm.’
Neutral/Normal: 7500K 9300K
Warm 1: 6500- 7500K
Warm 2: 5000- 6500K
I am writing this blog in Autumn and daylight saving time is upon us. This means the evenings are darker earlier and there is an opportunity to get long evenings full of melatonin rather just the few hours we are asleep.
I would advise everyone to check there TV settings and adjust them to warm. Especially if you mainly watch TV after dark. For day time use TV Neutral may look better.
Staring at blue light after dark is not a good idea as it shifts your body clock, suppressing your melatonin rhythm. Melatonin the ancient molecule of darkness is vitally important for sleep, detoxing, hormone balancing, cancer prevention and reduction.
Melatonin is the most potent anti-oxidant known. It is both fat and water soluble and crosses the blood brain barrier.
Every cell in the body, including cancer cells have receptors for melatonin. Known as the chemical expression of darkness, it tells our cells that it is night time, and time to stop.
- Powerful antioxidant.
- Activates the immune system.
- It prevents cell mobility that causes cancer to spread
- Prevents the growth of blood vessels that provide nourishment for cancer cells.
- Blocks oestrogen’s cancer stimulating effects
- Blocks the ability of tumours ability to stimulate localised production of oestrogen.
- It interferes with the cancer cell cycle leading to cancer cell death
- Blocks Telomerase’s ability to make cancer cells immortal.
- Promotes normal daily rhythms which helps prevent cancer and prevents the cancer promoting action of certain genes.
- Accelerates the process by which immature cells become differentiated mature cells- preventing cancer.
- Melatonin alters fat metabolism and interferes with the ability of many tumours to use the fatty acid linoleic acid as a growth signal, this causes tumour metabolism and growth to be shut down.
- Blocks uptake of glucose (the Warberg effect) by cancer cells.
- Melatonin has been shown to greatly enhance the effectiveness of tamoxifen a drug used to treat breast cancer.
- A robust melatonin rhythm has also been shown to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy (Blask- citation needed)