Actually, as a child, I didn’t need much storm to be terrified. Being left alone in a dark room, stirred up fear and trembling.
I was convinced that the shadows and creaking sounds were all signs that the boogeyman was on his way, to eat me. I knew he lived in the cupboard at the end of my bed, which is why the cupboard door had to be bolted shut, before I climbed into bed. Ideally, I needed an adult in the room too….
Something that was not all that practical for the adults in my life.
So…………. my Mom enlisted the help of a guardian angel.
A real one – in the form of a night light.
My guardian angel night light, was a pale blue being, who smelled like plastic and baby powder, he beamed out light all night, keeping the boogyeman stuck in the cupboard.
In retrospect……….. my guardian angel night light may not have been protecting me as much as I thought, in fact, my night light may have been aligned with the health boogeyman.
When guardian angels turn bad
Researchers from the Ohio State University put night lights to the test.
No…. they didn’t install the night lights in the rooms of terrified boys and girls, instead they lit up the cages of “terrified” hamsters.
Hamsters seeing the light
The experimental set up, saw adult Siberian hamsters spend their nights in one of four scenarios
- No light
- A dim red light
- A dim white light (this is normal light)
- A dim blue light
The hamsters went about their day to day lives as normal for 4 weeks. When the four weeks were up, the researchers assessed how the hamsters were feeling.
Since hamsters can’t fill out survey forms. The researchers gave the hamsters a sweet treat and watched how they behaved. Happy hamsters tend to tuck into sweet treats with vigour, unhappy hamsters usually don’t bother.
They discovered the lighting conditions had a big impact on the hamster’s mood.
In a light mood
Since hamsters don’t worry about boogeymen in the cupboard, the hamsters in the pitch dark probably slept the best.
These were the happiest hamster by far.
But the hamsters who spent their night IN THE LIGHT, were not all in a bad mood. Those exposed to red light were a whole lot happier, than those that had spent it under the white and blue lights.
Inside a hamster’s head
The researchers took it one step further, instead of subjectively assessing the hamster’s mood, they opted to look inside their head’s. The region of the head that was looked at was the hippocampus, the so called, thinking part of the brain.
Hamsters that had spent the night in dim blue or white light, had fewer dendritic spines, compared to those that lived in total darkness or that were exposed to only red light. These dendritic spine observations, further supported the idea that the hamsters in blue and white light were not as happy.
Hamsters are not tormented by boogeymen
So………….exposure to blue and white light at night makes hamsters less happy.
But hamsters don’t get tormented by the boogeyman, does the same thing happen in humans ?
Both hamsters and humans have specialized photosensitive cells in the retina, called ipRGCs. These cells don’t actually see things, but they do pick up shades of light.
When they sense light, they beam this information to the brain, specifically to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) region of the brain. This area of the brain is the body’s clock – it controls your body’s schedule.
Light at night creates chaos
Scientists have shown in the lab, that ipRGCs are more sensitive to wavelengths of light in the blue range. Exposure to normal light, which is really blue light in disguise, keeps the ipRGCs shooting messages to the brain.
This messaging is great during the day, but rather disruptive if it happens ALL NIGHT.
Protection from the boogeyman
Now if you or someone you love is afraid of the boogeyman – you do NEED a nigh light. But spending the night exposed to light, is going to create Bad Body Chemistry.
This research suggests a happy compromise. You can keep the boogeyman away, without compromising body chemistry by lighting up with a red night light.
|Open eyes by converting your office to a red light district||Your tablet computer is scaring away the night valet||Early to bed is the secret to raising a skinny child|
Being a Mom is a huge responsibility and knowing how to protect and optimize your family’s health is challenging. Get tips and strategies from the world of science and help your little ones have Better Body Chemistry so they grow up healthy and avoid the lifestyle diseases.
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