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Researchers developing device to predict proper light exposure for human health
Date:9/5/2007

Troy, N.Y. Scientists have long known that the human body runs like clockwork, guided by a circadian system that responds to daily patterns of light and darkness. Now a team of researchers is developing a personal device to measure daily light intake and activity, which could allow them to predict optimal timing for light therapy to synchronize the circadian clock to the 24-hour solar day and relieve psychosocial stress.

In short, scientists are creating a tool to help people literally lighten up.

Inadequate or irregular light exposure something many individuals face on a regular basis can cause circadian rhythm disruptions that can manifest into sleep and stress-related ailments. Supported by a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutes Lighting Research Center (LRC) are creating a small, head-mounted device to measure an individuals daily rest and activity patterns, as well as exposure to circadian light short-wavelength light, particularly natural light from the blue sky, that stimulates the circadian system.

The wireless tool will have the capacity to communicate with the user in real-time to give immediate feedback regarding proper light exposure to promote a synchronized circadian rhythm, according to Mark Rea, director of the LRC and principal investigator on the project.

Like a clock that needs to be set daily for accurate time-telling, the circadian clock an internal regulating mechanism that controls the repetition of biological activities such as core body temperature variations, hormone production and secretion, and sleeping and waking patterns, among other functions in the human body requires similar setting from the light each day. A cycle of very bright days and very dark nights is the perfect regulator for the human circadian system, but patterns of light and dark in todays modern world are often inconsistent with this cycle.'/>"/>

Contact: Amber Cleveland
clevea@rpi.edu
518-276-2146
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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