The Xanthophyll Cycle in Photosystem II

Monday, 30 June 2014

Let's talk about lighting, artifical lighting

Any form of light is always relevant to this blog, especially because my entire project is about light stress on plants, photosynthesis related. Anyways, this is what today's blog will be about! LIGHT! :)

It was in the first year of University that I realised the importance of light to the human body. I use to wake up in the winter term feeling all gloomy and depressed, which is quite strange as usually I'm like fully of energy and bursting with happiness. I guess they call it the winter blues ? Anyways, this lead me to discover the condition of SAD, aka. the seasonal defective disorder, which is basically seasonal depression thought to be related to reduce exposure of sunlight. SAD is believed to cause depression by the disruption to the production of important chemicals in the brain's hypothalamus, chemicals of serotonin and melatonin, made from the amino acid Tryptophan. These chemicals are responsible for regulating the sleep/wake cycle, appetite and mood. No wonder the disruption to the normal sleeping cycle, lack of motivation, lack of libido all start to kick in for many of us in in the UK's winter. So it was from such lunch time google session that I discovered the importance of lighting to the human body. I immediately requested a SAD light to be purchased as a gift from my boyfriend. Sadly, I never received the SAD light and spring came eventually~ I moved on with life.

Skip a year and abit on, to my 2014 exam period, I noticed that using different types of lighting in my room really affected my mood/ how long I could actually study for. Traditionally, I have always used an orange yellow emitting light bulb, I never thought much of it till I realised it wasn't my chair that made me feel feel grouchy over a period of time, nor was it the module I was revising. It hit me again that lighting was a big factor in concentration time for me! It sparked back memories to that winter lunch time google session where I found out SAD lighting really helped SAD individuals!

So I immediately thought brighter and whiter the light the better for concentration, because that is essentially what SAD lights are made of. Especially, because my room has very high ceiling, for the fact it is an old Victorian house and frantically the room is very large in size. Light does not easily reach the far end of my room where my study is place!

So I immediately went out and brought this ecozone bright white light to exchange for the yellow warm tinged study light! I even read reviews before hand how people used this to cure their own SAD in winter.

Super bright Ecozone light bulb huh?
Literally don't even need to switch on the main bedroom light, this was enough. LOOK AT THE GLEAM, how it lights up the entire room~
So initially it was great, for a week I really felt a difference and was studying for long periods of time. Well longer than with the yellow warm tinge light bulb! I even considered changing the entire house to white light bulbs, the change for me was revolutionary! It made me feel more awake and energised, essentially it felt like being outside, but indoors. Text on my lecture printouts were very crisps as well thank to the lighting, everything was great.

BUT.... there is always a but to everything. Nothing is a happy ending like fairy tales I guess.

I slowly felt a bit sick with the white light intensity. Yes it could of been due to the fact I was constantly studying all the time and revision eventually makes you feel a bit sick, but I took breaks and coming back I still felt sick. It wasn't like a mental I feel sick of revision because I revised too much today. I generally have quite strong will and I knew I had to study hard for good grades, so I would always be consciously aware about such thought. No, I felt physically sick, that was when I knew artificial white light must be bad for you. SO there I went, with my usual, exquisite mind, eager to find out proof for any theories I connect together....Is white light bad for you?

Reading from site to site, paper to paper. I came to the conclude it actually was...

Turns out exposure to white light, suppresses your melatonin production by x5 than that to the normal yellow warm tinge light bulbs! This is due to the fact that white light bulbs emit a shorter wavelength than that of ordinary warm yellow tinge bulbs! Gosh I was shocked! Apparently, the U.S government are aware of this and make sure that excessive amounts of light pollution are not introduced in public areas.

Melatonin as expressed above is very important for the body's biological clock. In addition, it has anti cancerous and anti oxidant properties too. I immediately changed back to my yellow warm tinged light bulb and to be honest I didn't feel physical sick anymore. Yes I couldn't study as long, but sometimes it is better to take more breaks really. It's actually been proven that interval learning will aid your memory more likely than that of mass training. Something I learnt in my neuroscience module this year.

Here is the link to the paper itself, explaining why interval learning is better than mass, just in case you are intrigued :)

Click here:  A functional MRI study on associative memory

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