Anyone with an iPhone is familiar with Apple’s Night Shift mode, the feature added last year allowing users to turn off blue light with promises of a better night’s sleep. However, not many of us are familiar with the significant effects blue light has each and every day. Trinity University sophomore, Logan Morrison ‘19, is researching just that.
|Morrison's mentor, Dr. Jerry Hizon (right), is a primary care sports doctor. Source: medicalassistantca.com|
More than 30% of the United States’ population suffers from some level of insomnia, 10% experiencing severe and chronic insomnia. Research suggests that the exposure to blue light could explain some people’s difficulty sleeping. Light is received through retinal ganglion cells and is relayed to the brain through the retinal hypothalamic network to the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that serves as our circadian pacemaker. As this process concludes, blue light prevents the secretion of melatonin making it harder to go to sleep and stay asleep.
|A diagram, provided by Morrison, demonstrating the reception of light.|
Over the next few months, Morrison and his research partners will be testing patients with insomnia using Fitbits and blue light blocking glasses, which can be bought online for as little as $8. For two weeks, the subjects will track their sleep patterns without the glasses and then for the subsequent two weeks they will track their sleep patterns wearing the glasses from 6 p.m. until they go to sleep.
Morrison, who will be working remotely from San Antonio, will collect and analyze the data from the Fitbits, hoping to discover a correlation between improved sleep and blue light blocking glasses. “The end goal is to find data that suggests wearing blue light blocking glasses as an additive treatment method for insomnia,” Morrison said, “And I’m optimistic because I really think it will work.”
|The Uvex Skyper Blue Light Blocking Computer Glasses with SCT-Orange Lenses being used in Morrison's research. Source: amazon.com|
“The research I’m completing actually relates to neuroscience,” Morrison explained, “I learned a lot of the terminology and pathways in class so when Dr. Hizon would talk about the more scientific parts of the research I could understand them.” This exciting connection between Trinity’s courses and medical research helped solidify Morrison’s future plans of going to medical school and completing medical based research.
“I think Trinity has prepared me well [for medical school] so far because as a sophomore I already feel comfortable putting myself in a medical research environment,” Morrison added, “The skills I’ve developed here help me set myself apart from other pre-med students.”
For more information on Trinity University’s neuroscience department, visit their homepage.