Light as Medicine Part II: Understanding the Circadian Rhythm

Kusha Karvandi | 27 Dec 2016

man looking at computer

In Part I, I discussed the various types of light and how each has its own individual biological properties associated with it. In this article we are going to explore blue light more specifically.

Blue light is a wavelength that presents bioactive features in the human cells. It’s completely different with UV light so there is no added benefit of Vitamin D. Through the SCN of the hypothalamus (the tract that runs from the eyes to the midbrain), blue light regulates circadian rhythm. Basically, it’s used to regulate the hormones associated with sleep cycles.

The Circadian Rhythm

person sleeping on couch The circadian rhythm can best be explained as how humans (just like other animals) evolved and adjusted accordingly to the sun’s rising and setting. Of course, this was all going well before a few things came up. For instance, as people become more modernized, there is a tendency to spend time indoors rather than outdoors during the day.

Also, with the invention of electricity (artificial light), people gained light exposure (usually blue spectrum) long after the sun goes down. Basically, with these 2 factors, people have become completely blind to the setting or rising of the sun. Eventually, the circadian rhythm has become disrupted causing a variety of health issues, especially due to lack of sleep.

Today, you’re likely to find so many people suffering from insomnia and low energy levels during the day. That’s because of the disrupted circadian rhythm. In the book, Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival, by Wiley and Formbly, you can read that this disruption has contributed immensely to modern day inherited diseases. These include cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and hypothyroidism among many others. Of course, lifestyle and dieting habits also contribute to these diseases as well besides the circadian rhythm.

Also, there is research that shows that if the rhythm is disrupted, an individual will most likely suffer from a few psychological illnesses and issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and much more.

Circadian Rhythm Reset

So how can you correct this issue? Of course, it would be best to abandon your electronics, especially at night, but I understand that may be unreasonable. Therefore, the only way out of this is changing your lifestyle. For instance, if you’re accustomed to staying indoors more than going outdoors during the day, you should start by making a plan to get outside for at least a few minutes each day. Also, I’m a big fan of hacking my night time routine with red color therapy glasses. Basically, two hours before bed I put on my red glasses while I watch TV or finish any work on the computer. This helps tremendously with resetting the body’s clock so falling and staying asleep is easier.

With time, any disruptions in your circadian rhythm will be corrected. Eventually, your sleep cycle goes back to normal and you can enjoy better sleep. Even better, you can guarantee better psychological and emotional health with these hacks.

With less disruptions in your circadian rhythm, you would expect to see the following benefits:

  • Enhanced mood & focus.
  • Increased energy and decreased reliance on stimulants.
  • Improved stamina & strength.
  • Optimized metabolism & fat burning.
  • Optimized insulin sensitivity and hunger control.

In Part III we will look at how the different wavelengths of the light spectrum affect people differently.

For a list of references, click here.

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Kusha Karvandi

About the author: Kusha Karvandi

Kusha is an entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast with a passion for "biohacking" to help others live their best life. Kusha has 9 years experience as a personal trainer and health club manager, with over 10,000 session hours seviced and 15 certifications. He is the author of Nutriscribe, known for its no-nonsense, no calorie counting approach to weight loss and healthy eating. To round out his passion for helping others to get in shape, Kusha has made it his business to ensure that everyone can have a unique personal training experience through his app, Exerscribe, which provides custom and adaptable workout plans to anyone who simply has a gym membership.

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