People often say it’s better to sleep with the lights off, as it seems to be better for their circadian rhythm. Researchers started developing some studies on the issue and discovered that too much light might inhibit the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This highlights the correlation between light and an off-beat circadian rhythm.
Melatonin disruption affects one’s circadian rhythm
Melatonin is a really important hormone for the sleep cycle. Our brain releases it at night and helps us lead a healthy sleeping cycle. However, these two influence each other. Melatonin regulates sleep but missing on rest during the night can affect the production of the hormone. Now, researchers discovered too much light exposure at night might affect one’ circadian rhythm.
Researchers wanted to see how the circadian rhythm and melatonin production are related. Therefore, they developed a study where they exposed sleeping people either to a continuous source of light or to an intermittent one. Also, they exposed the participants to a strict schedule of sleep at night and activity during the day.
Intermittent light patterns at night do the biggest damage
The main purpose of the study was to find out the reprogramming of the circadian rhythm was caused by shifting melatonin levels. However, their findings were even more interesting. Those people who slept with intermittent light nearby suffered a much bigger change in their biological clocks. This is interesting, as this source of light reduced melatonin production less than the continuous source.
This means there is a connection between the two, but it’s not so prominent. However, the findings can still be relevant for those people who have trouble sleeping. These might be viable solutions to regulate your circadian rhythm, but the study comes with certain limitations. It uses a relatively small sample of participants, so we need more research until we find a clear correlation between light patterns and internal clock disruption.
The study was published in the Journal of Physiology.
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