Experiential learning encompasses any activity in which a student is actively engaged in their education inside or outside of the classroom. At Trinity, experiential learning includes undergraduate research opportunities inside and outside of the classroom, volunteer experiences, internships, study abroad opportunities, and more.

Is Blue Light Ruining My Beauty Sleep?

By Allyson Mackender –

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
While other students enjoyed their time off, Morrison, a neuroscience major, spent his winter break serving as a research assistant at Motion Sports MD, a family and sports medicine clinic near his hometown of Temecula, California. Supervised by Dr. Jerry Hizon, Morrison worked with two students from the University of California Riverside studying the effects of blue light blocking glasses on the improvement of insomniatic sleep patterns.

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.
“Evolutionarily we didn’t have blue light,” Morrison explained, “There wasn’t TV, or cell phones, or tablets… Also, a lot of light is switching to LED because it is brighter and higher energy but those are pretty much pure blue light.” The modern introduction of blue light clearly has serious effects on sleep patterns. Dr. Hizon, Morrison, and UC Riverside medical students are now tasked with solving this problem.

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
When asked about the challenges faced while completing his research, Morrison was surprised by how many logistical steps must be completed to actually begin the project. After writing a research proposal and doing an extensive literature review, the UC Riverside students had to propose the topic to the Dean who then submits it to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval. Since this project uses human subjects, the process was even more exhaustive. However, this step was one of the many learning opportunities Morrison experienced while completing his research.

“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.


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