University Heights, OH (PRWEB) February 20, 2006
It has been known for a number of years that melatonin, the sleep hormone produced in the pineal gland appears in breast milk. The amount varies throughout the day and night in keeping with the amount of melatonin the mother has in her blood. It has also been known for many years that the pineal gland only produces melatonin when the individual is in darkness. Before the arrival of electric lights we were in darkness 12 hours a day, on average. Now most of us are lucky to be in darkness for 7 or 8 hours a day. For a new mother this may drop to 4 or 5 hours a day. This means the time when her milk contains melatonin may be very short. Fortunately there is a way out of this problem that may make both the babies and their mothers and fathers sleep much better.
In 2001 two independent studies found that not all colors of light have the same effect in suppressing melatonin. It was found that it is the blue component in light that has the biggest effect. In a study at the University of Toronto it was found that if subjects wore goggles that blocked the blue light, they continued making melatonin despite being exposed to bright light. In blocking the blue light we still have the yellow, orange and red light to find our way around, watch television, read or whatever we want to do. Physicists at John Carroll University have developed glasses and light bulbs with filters that block blue light. They make them available at http://www.sleeplamps.com.
This means that a nursing mother may provide milk for her infant that is rich in melatonin which may help the child sleep better. Having more melatonin will also help the mother sleep better. This can be accomplished if the mother simply puts on glasses that block the blue light for part of the day and night. Combined time in real darkness and wearing the glasses need not excel 12 hours. Wearing them longer will not produce more melatonin. Most important is avoiding exposure to white light during the night when getting up for feeding the baby. Nightlights or regular lights that block blue light should be used or else the glasses should be worn. Even a few minutes exposure to white light will wipe out melatonin production, possibly for the rest of the night. Putting on glasses a few hours before bedtime seems to be the most practical thing and wearing them for shorter time in the early morning, if awake, to extend the nighttime.
Glasses that fit tightly and block light coming in form the side and light bulbs that do not cause melatonin suppression are available on the web at http://www.sleeplamps.com.
Dr. Richard L. Hansler
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