Sleep Disruption – The Science of Light
Do you use a phone, tablet, computer or watch TV right before bed? Recent research helps explain exactly what is happening in our eyes and brains, and why ‘screen time’ can disrupt our sleep.
Scientists have recently linked specific cells in our eyes, and how they process light and how that, affects our circadian rhythms. When our bodies biological clocks are thrown off, it can result in sleep deprivation.
We’ve all read about the scary things that can come from sleep disruption. Increased risk of obesity, cognitive decline, increased risk of cancer and many more undesirable things.
A protein called Melanopsin regulates our biological clock after about 10 minutes of exposure to bright light. It tells our bodies to suppress the production of Melatonin.
Most people know about Melatonin, and its important role in regulating sleep.
When our eyes are exposed to artificial light, our internal clocks get confused.
The Technical Stuff
“Conventional wisdom has held that proteins called arrestins, which stop the activity of certain receptors, should halt cells’ photosensitive response within seconds of lights coming on.
The researchers were surprised to find that arrestins are in fact necessary for melanopsin to continue responding to prolonged illumination.
In mice lacking either version of the arrestin protein (beta arrestin 1 and beta arrestin 2), the melanopsin-producing retinal cells failed to sustain their sensitivity to light under prolonged illumination.
The reason, it turns out, is that arrestin helps melanopsin regenerate in the retinal cells.” (read the article in full here)
That’s a mouthful. Honestly, we’re not even sure exactly what it means. So, caveat emptor.
Other Causes of Sleep Disruption
There are many other causes of sleep disruption. In no particular order, perhaps you recognize a few of these?
- Peeing in the middle of the night. Could be you’re over 50. Or maybe you’re drinking too much liquid prior to bedtime? Sometimes this can be linked to a bladder infection or other health issue. Talk to your Doctor to be safe!
- Drinking Alcohol – Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t help you sleep. Even smaller quantities can have a stimulating effect.
- Heartburn. Also known as acid reflux, or GERD – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
- Caffeine. Don’t drink caffeinated beverages 8 hours or less before going to bed.
- Sleep Apnea – Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
- Restless Leg Syndrome – it’s a disorder that causes a strong urge to move one’s legs.
- Kids. Yeah, if you’ve got them, you love them, but man can they sleep deprive you. Sorry no advice here. Well, actually this could help with younger ones!
Of course, it would be ridiculous of us to post, without a somewhat shameless plug for our fantastic Fawcett Mattresses. Sleep deprived? Sleep disturbed? Often it can be related to the comfort of your Mattress! Or Discomfort, as the case may be….