Sleeping is one of the main and most preferred processes in our everyday life. It is so important that we spend one-third of our day sleeping. But yet, sleep is something which many people have problems with. Those who work with shifts are the more exposed people to sleep disorders generally as well as people suffering from depression etc. Further to this, our body has its own biological clock which measures when should we sleep, how much etc.
The study “Functional decoupling of melatonin suppression and circadian phase resetting in humans” covers the effects of melatonin as well as of light exposure during the night in human body’s biological clock, circadian rhythm. The study was published in the Journal of Physiology from The Physiological Society with leading author Dr. Shadab Rahman.
16 participants in a good condition of young age were exposed to nighttime bright light for periodic patterns as well as uninterrupted ones. The continuation of the exposure patterns varied from 12 minutes to 6.5 hours while these participants were part of the study for 10 days.
The major influencer for the circadian phase resetting is the light. Furthermore, melatonin is a hormone which has the ability to regulate this circadian phase (body clock) but the light exposure discontinues the melatonin production from the brain. From this study, researchers monitored the connection between melatonin and circadian phase resetting. It has long been believed that since bright light stops the melatonin production, the latter is the reason why people have problems with their sleep. But experts have seen from the research that melatonin abolition is not a significant marker for body clock fluctuations. Periodic bright light exposure patterns showed notable switching of body clock even though the abolition of melatonin was very low. Different periodic exposure patterns tended to show approximate melatonin abolition but not similar body clock shifts. In few words, even though melatonin and body clock shifts are correlated, researchers found that melatonin has a different functional process from circadian phase and cannot be used as a proxy for body clock shifts and vice versa.
The leading author of the research, Dr. Shadab Rahman hopes that the above-mentioned fact is an impetus for the development of future treatments with light-therapy for patients having sleep disorder as well as those who suffer from depression.