Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that exposure to short wavelength, or blue light, during the biological day directly and immediately improves alertness and performance. These findings are published in the February issue of Sleep.
"Our previous research has shown that blue light is able to improve alertness during the night, but our new data demonstrates that these effects also extend to daytime light exposure," said Shadab Rahman, PhD, a researcher in BWH’s Division of Sleep Medicine and lead author of this study. "These findings demonstrate that prolonged blue light exposure during the day has an an alerting effect."
In order to determine which wavelengths of light were most effective in warding off fatigue, the BWH researchers teamed with George Brainard, PhD, a professor of neurology at Thomas Jefferson University, who developed the specialized light equipment used in the study. Researcherscompared the effects of blue light with exposure to an equal amount of green light on alertness and performance in 16 study participants for 6.5 hours over a day. Participants then rated how sleepy they felt, had their reaction times measured and wore electrodes to assess changes in brain activity patterns during thelight exposure.
The researchers found that participants exposed to blue light consistently rated themselves as less sleepy, had quicker reaction times and fewer lapses of attention during the performance tests compared to those who were exposed to green light. They also showed changes in brain activity patterns that indicated a more alert state.
"These results contribute to our understanding of how light impacts the brain and open up a new range of possibilities for using light to improve human alertness, productivity and safety," explained Steven Lockley, PhD, neuroscientist at BWH and senior investigator of the study. "While helping to improve alertness in night workers has obvious safety benefits, day shift workers may also benefit from better quality lighting that would not only help them see better but also make them more alert."
Researchers note that the next big challenge is to figure out how to deliver better lighting. While natural light is ideal, many people do not have access to daylight in their schools, homes or work places. In addition to improvements in daylight access, the advent of new, more controllable lighting technologies may help enable researchers to develop ‘smart’ lighting systems designed to maximize the beneficial effects of light for human health, productivity and safety.
In this perfectly timed photograph by Matt Hutton, we see a dolphin and surfer riding a wave at Jacques Point in Kalbarri, Australia. Hutton, who was kind enough to share this photo with the Sifter earlier this week, said the shot was accidental and that the appearance of the dolphin was a surprise to both him and the surfer (who has been identified as Trent Sherborne).
Researchers say they’ve figured out how to engineer tissue equipped with not only blood vessels, but lymph vessels too—a crucial discovery since lymph vessels are responsible for transporting fluid out of the tissue and into the bloodstream, to stop it from building up and killing the artificial organ before it can meld with the rest of the body.
Diving Bear by JimFreeman Taken from an underwater viewing area at the zoo on my first trip out with my dslr
The Slow Mo Guys captured this footage of the superhydrophobic surfaces scientists are working on at GE Global Research. These materials are being developed to keep ice off aviation equipment and wind turbines, and for self-cleaning applications.
This needs a soundtrack. The only one I have going in my head is “gluuuuurrp blooorrrrp sploosh”