Introducing The Senior Accountant of Your Sleep....MELANOPSIN

When it comes to making sure we have an optimally functioning circadian rhythm ( sleep wake cycles ) we typically get drawn to blue light glasses, screen filters that our phones have as the one stop shop for giving you the perfect biological rhythms. This is only partially true. Whilst it is imperative that we block blue and green light entering the eye from direct sources after dark, this is only half of the solution to the problem.


"It is now known that our skin, brain and even fat cells are sensitive to blue and green light and can critically unbalance our biological rhythms. The key component to the Jack Kruse coined phrase “Skin in the Game” is MELANOPSIN"

What is Melanopsin?

Melanopsin Photosensitive Protein
Melanopsin a Photosensitive Protein

Melanopsin was found to be in our eyes in 1998. Melanopsin is a type of photopigment belonging to a larger family of light-sensitive retinol proteins called opsins. Melanopsin is particularly sensitive to the absorption of blue light and will communicate these light frequencies to the central clock and peripheral oscillator clocks in the brain. Basically, Melanopsin is the key driver in setting of our circadian rhythms (sleep pattern). From the perspective of the eye, melanopsin regulates the amount of melatonin released from the pineal gland. Melatonin is essential for sleep. Therefore, it is important not to allow blue light to enter the eye after dark. Melanopsin is found primarily in the intrinsically photosensitive retinal gangliuon cells (ipRGCs). IpRGC receptors are in the inner retina and are only truly influenced by light from a direct head on source.



MELANOPSIN IS STRATEGICALLY PLACED IN YOUR SKIN, BUT WHEN IT IS EXPOSED TO BLUE LIGHT AT NIGHT IT TURNS OFF MELATONIN PRODUCTION EFFECTING YOUR ABILITY TO SLEEP.

Until 2017 we thought that melanopsin only existed in the eyes of humans. A study published in Nature (1) showed that subcutaneous white adipocytes express a light sensitive signalling pathway mediated via a melanopsin/TRPC channel axis.

It is now evident that melanopsin is present in the skin and fat cells and can translate light signals even if we block blue light from entering our eyes.

When TRPC receptors are exposed to blue light after dark it is very common that inflammation occurs. This is probably one of the reasons why night shift workers are the highest users of prescription pain relief medication and why we have a major dependence on pain medication in the developed world. Personally, if I have my skin exposed to blue light after dark I get very twitchy and itchy and this is sure fire proof that blue light is irritating my skin via the TRPC channels via melanopsin activation.

In humans the bond between melanopsin to retinol is a very weak covalent bond. The bond is easily broken by short wavelength blue light. What do human’s live and work under 24/7? You guessed it, blue light from LED Lights.


Study’s in the past have shown that blind people can still have entrained body clocks and can sense brightness of blue light despite not being able to see. They can do this due to heightened perception of blue light via the skin and brain (2).

In a bid to have a disease free and healthy life we need to protect our mitochondria and repair DNA damage. The way human’s do this is through the production of melatonin. You can increase melatonin production by wearing blue light blocking glasses after dark but if you leave your skin exposed you will not optimise production. You would be leaving valuable melatonin on the table, and given it’s a potent anti-oxidant that repairs DNA damage and stimulates autophagy, why would you want to do that?


Hashimoto's disease which is a disease of the thyroid is increasing throughout the developed world, why is this? It could well be down to the chronic blue light exposure our thyroid has to endure over a 24-hour period from phone and laptop/desktop screens.


The thyroid is located only as few millimetres below the skin making it very vulnerable to blue light exposure and nnEMF (3).

During the day our necks are exposed to high intensity blue light from digital devices and after dark in our homes and outside. More women than men suffer from Hashimoto's as women typically have their necks exposed to blue light more than men. Men in an office job will typically wear a shirt and/or tie which will add protection to the thyroid and then melanopsin in that area from being damaged by blue light.

If blue light is damaging the thyroid and causing Hashimoto's disease, then it would be plausible to predict that blue light could also be damaging the skin and leading to skin cancer or damaging the nervous system and leading to MS. Many of these types of disease could be a melanopsin dysfunction. Protecting Melanopsin – a Simple Rx

  • Wear blue light blocking glasses whenever looking at a screen and add a blue screen protector app

  • Reduce (as much as possible) exposure of your skin to LED (blue Light) at night time (especially the throat from devices)

  • If sitting for long periods in front of a PC/Mac without a Blue Light Filter App, wear a scarf around the neck during the day and evening.

  • Cover your skin from top to bottom after dark if in LED light.

  • When travelling on a plane make sure all the above is followed to help beat jetlag too.

  • Make sure your bedroom is light free from inside and outside. Use blackout curtains and a sleep mask to protect the skin from blue light whilst you sleep. Common causes are street lamps and car headlights shining through your window.

references

1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6944442/

2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7813134/

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3243874/



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