YumaLite™ – All Year Round: Resetting the body clock & The importance of light
A certain amount of sunlight is important every day for us to feel normal and healthy. Without enough bright light in our lives we don’t realize how much it can affect our energy and our mood. We want to sleep longer, eat more. We tend to gain weight. We might even have difficulty concentrating or find our sex drive is lower. Some of us feel severe forms of these symptoms during the winter and suffer from winter blues, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). However there are many reasons we might not receive adequate light all year long; rainy days, working inside at the office, jet lag and shift work can also make us feel these same symptoms. Seniors commonly suffer from not getting the light they need, as do mothers with newborn babies who must be awake at all hours. When natural light isn’t available, YumaLite™ can provide a source of light to help us feel better and give us more energy!
How does light affect our mood?
Light affects our mood through its impact on our body clock. Our body clock refers to the internal systems inside our body that regulate our physical and mental functions over the course of a day, known as our circadian rhythms.
How the body clock works
Light affects our mood through its impact on our body clock. Our body clock refers to the internal system inside our body that regulates our physical and mental functions over the course of a day, known as our circadian rhythm. Light establishes our body clock by affecting various hormones in our body, including hormones that tell us when to wake up or go to sleep. Specialized cells in the retina at the back of our eyes, called photosensitive ganglion cells, interpret light/dark and carry this information to the brain signaling the release of various hormones. At night, when no light is detected, the eye sends the signal to the pineal gland in the brain to begin releasing melatonin, which causes us to feel sleepy. Because melatonin is only produced in humans at night, it is known as the ‘hormone of darkness’. In the morning, when light hits our eyes, our brain tells our body to stop making melatonin, and instead to start producing serotonin, another hormone, typically called the happiness hormone because it gives us a ‘lift’ in our day.
When our body clock goes out of whack
Exposure to enough light in the morning and afternoon, and darkness at night, helps our body clock to work properly so we feel normal. But when natural light is not available due to our busy schedule or seasonal changes, our brain doesn’t receive the signals it should, when it should. When that’s the case, our body continues to produce too much of the sleep hormone, melatonin, while we’re awake, making us feel lethargic, and too little of the happiness hormone, serotonin, making us feel sad.
Melatonin—about more than just sleep
But melatonin controls more than just sleep. It also regulates reproduction, behaviour, hair growth, hunger, and libido (your sex drive). So when our body clock gets out of whack, these other aspects of our life are impacted. Furthermore, the lack of light affects other hormones, such as insulin and ghrelin, which control our appetite. With our body clock derailed, we may feel, to varying degrees, any of the symptoms of light deficiency—sadness, lethargy, over-sleeping, over-eating, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and diminished libido.
Serotonin—another mood hormone
Another hormone, serotonin, also has a significant impact on mood and mood regulation and plays a major role in disruptions to circadian rhythms and in turn, mood regulation. In fact, serotonin is actually converted into melatonin. This happens as light levels fall in the evening and the pineal gland signals for melatonin production to increase. In simplistic terms the actions of serotonin and melatonin are opposing with serotonin stimulating us during the daytime and melatonin inducing sleep at night. In mood disorders caused by disruptions to circadian rhythms, we know that melatonin levels are higher than normal during the day, so sufferers experience sleepiness and other melatonin induced effects, and are also prone to serotonin deficiency symptoms such as negative emotional states. As a result of the close relationship between serotonin and melatonin, circadian rhythm dysfunction can probably be seen as complementary to each other rather than as totally distinct explanations for disorders caused by circadian rhythm disruptions or other light deficiencies.
The change of seasons is a common reason for throwing off our body clock. Shift work and jet lag can have similar effects.
Resetting the body clock When natural light isn’t available, light from a specially designed light source like YumaLite™ can play the role the sun normally would. Using YumaLite™ to replace the lost light in our life can help us keep our body clock working all year long.
You can use white or red LED light with one simple click on the YumaLite™ visor. Both work as effectively when used for 20-30 minutes a day in the morning.