Old eyes can’t wake the sandman up

blue light triggering melatonin release Old eyes can’t wake the sandman upIt’s not just your teeth that turn yellow as you age, the lenses in your eyes, also takes on a yellow hew.

No, you don’t have to worry about being mistaken for a yellow eyed alien, since the change can only be detected using state of the art equipment. You can still see perfectly fine through a yellow lens. But the yellow lens could account for why you’re struggling to catch that much needed shut eye.

Blue light stirs the sandman

Although light is made up of all the colours of the rainbow, not all colours are created equal. Blue light is the wavelength that stirs the sandman. When the blue light falls on receptors in the retina, it triggers the release of melatonin from the pineal gland.

Melatonin is the hormone which helps to regulate your body’s clock, ensuring you body aligns your metabolism with the sun’s rising and setting – theoretically at least. Electrical lights and overly busy schedules have a tendency to wreak havoc on “the clock”, with some serious health consequences.

Shining a little blue light on insomnia

Danish researchers suspected aging lenses were keeping older citizens awake at night.

They studied the lenses of 970 volunteers, using lens autoflurometry, a non-invasive technique that measures how much blue light hits the retina and then related this to how well the person slept.

Each volunteer’s sleeping patterns were assessed through a comprehensive questionnaire. The use of prescription sleeping pills within the previous 12 months, was also recorded, for each study participant.

The sleep disturbed blocked blue light

The data analysis revealed a distinct pattern.

Sleep disturbances occurred most often, when the blue light could not get through to the retina due to yellowing of the lens.

So if you’re getting on in years – those sleeping blues, might be due to a blue light deficit.

Letting the blue light through is a cure for insomnia

Currently the only way to get more blue light through is to undergo cataract surgery.

In cataract surgery, the damaged lens is carefully removed and replaced with a brand spanking crystal clear artificial version. After the surgery, most people find they can retire the prescription sleeping pills.

Scientists expect to be able to exploit the blue light effect in the future. So just like you can have your teeth cleaned up, expect to be able to sign up for a treatment which removes the yellow stains from your eye lens’. Eye cleaning will leave you with sparkling clean lenses which allows all the light through, so you sleep like a log, no matter your age.

Throwing a little light on the subject

The neighbourhood birds can confirm when it comes to physiology - light matters. The amount, quality, type and timing of light has a major impact on sleep quality.

Lighting up may heal or harm – be tuned on to the lights in your world.

Sleep disturbances are related to decreased transmission of blue light to the retina caused by lens yellowing. Sleep (2011) 34(9):1215-1219. Kessel L; Siganos G; Jørgensen T; Larsen M

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Further reading

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Looking for a drug-free prescription for a restful night’s sleep ?  Playing outdoors will give you x-ray vision Blue umbrellas rule when it comes to sun protection 

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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  1. By » Blog Archive » Round up 28 Nov – 2 Dec on December 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    [...] Old eyes can’t wake the sandman up Big Spoons [...]

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