Welcome to our June 2018 Newsletter!
Truth be told I originally had a very different focus for this month’s newsletter until I stumbled upon a paper entitled “Transforming Patient Health Care And Well-being Through Lighting”, tracked down one of the participants, Dr. Robert Karlicek Jr. and interviewed him on the topic of the possible impact of artificial lighting on our health. Although this topic necessitated me digging up my high school science books and engaging the Google, my efforts were well worth the results as our talk really enlightened me, pardon the pun!
Light and lighting impact human health and with the trend to use LED lighting for greater energy efficiency it has become a concern for many people that we are over exposed to blue light. Blue light is predominant during the daylight hours and is beneficial because it boosts attention, reaction times and mood. During these daylight hours the hormone melatonin is suppressed which is the way it should be. As the day grows long blue spectrum light wanes and as the sun sets our body starts to produce melatonin. Melatonin peaks overnight then gradually starts to go down as the sun rises. Melatonin is responsible for setting the time keeper within our body that regulates the circadian rhythms of our cardio vascular system, digestion and other systems that have circadian rhythms.
Dr. Karlicek Jr. explained that there are cells within the human retina that are not specifically part of the visual pathway BUT are part of a circadian regulation pathway that respond especially strongly to blue light. And herein lies the problem. LED lighting emits far more blue light than older incandescent bulbs.
Our frequent overexposure to blue light, especially at night from electronics with screens and energy-efficient lighting is greatly increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths. And this is messing with our melatonin production and in turn our circadian rhythms. Disruption of circadian rhythm is associated with health issues including cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, insulin resistance.
Although research is still trying to bridge an association between light, circadian rhythm and possible links to disease it is truly important that we take in to consideration this increasingly relevant topic of our exposure to artificial lighting in our overall health picture.