A recent study was carried out at the University of Manchester proving that the color of light can affect all living mammals’ internal clock. We all live by a daily rhythm that influences the entire flow of our existence. Our body’s clock dictates our need to sleep and be awake, our hunger, moods, and mental activity. Therefore, it is important to know how it operates and what determines its changes.
The research was led by Dr. Timothy Brown from the Faculty of Life Sciences. Along with a team of experts, he concluded that color could be used to manipulate our internal rhythm and this could prove to be a very useful finding, especially for people working in shifts and those who want to diminish the effects of jet lag when travelling. When color changes, our brain is able to apply this adjustment in relation to the time of the day.
The team of researchers analyzed the ways in which people and animals are able to sense what time of the day it is, just by looking at alterations of light during dawn and dusk. Even if they are not the first ones to prove that light intensity changes during these two particular moments of the day, their discovery that sunset light has a bluer shade than daylight is considered a premiere.
The study was conducted in mice that were exposed to a variety of visual stimuli while the electrical activity from their brains was recorded. These records showed that most of their neural activity (about one fourth of their neurons) was less affected by brightness than by changes from blue to yellow shades. Afterwards, the color changes and brightness that occur every day were displayed on an artificial sky made by LED lights situated behind a screen and the mice were placed under it for several days. The results showed that their body heat was higher after dusk, when the sky had a darker shade of blue. That is a normal reaction for these nocturnal animals, whose regular rhythm is supposed to increase their temperature at night. Whenever a change in color occurred, their body clocks proved to be confused and their temperatures increased half an hour earlier than usual. When only the brightness and not the color of the artificial sky was altered, the mice showed more activity before dusk. This proved that their body clock was not corresponding to the day-evening cycle. Thus, the study basically showed how the color of light affects a normal internal body clock and, according to Dr. Timothy Brown, results can be applied to humans as well.
The results of this study were published on April 17th in the Open Access journal PLOS Biology. Their findings are considered to be important, especially for the treatment of sleeping disorders and seasonal depression in the future.
Image Source: tranquilitylabs
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