Novel Technology May Help New Mothers Avoid the Despair of Postpartum Depression

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Dr. Richard Hansler's new book "Pregnant? New Baby? Need Sleep!" describes how avoiding light at night can improve sleep for new mothers and reduce risk of postpartum depression.

Numerous studies show that exposing the eyes to light during the night results in two things, suppressing the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone and in resetting of the circadian or internal clock.

New mothers (and fathers) getting up during the night and exposing their eyes to ordinary light, experience this disruption which may make it difficult for them to go back to sleep. About the time they do get to sleep, the baby cries and they have to get up again. If this disruption continues night after night, the loss of sleep and the disruption of the circadian rhythm may lead to depression.

In 2001 it was discovered that not all colors of light suppress melatonin and reset the circadian clock. It is primarily the blue rays in ordinary white light that cause the problem. In 2005 Dr. Hansler's group at John Carroll University developed light bulbs that don't make blue light and eyeglasses that eliminate the blue rays. A spin off company, Photonic Developments LLC makes these products available at

“Pregnant? New Baby? Need Sleep!” (available on the website) provides the simple steps a pregnant woman or new mom can take to avoid loss of melatonin and disruption of the circadian rhythm. According to Dr. Hansler, if the mother develops a robust circadian rhythm, the unborn baby will also have a robust circadian rhythm, since melatonin travels across the placental barrier. Furthermore, the baby's rhythm will be in synchrony with the mother's. If she breast feeds her baby this will continue, since the mother's melatonin appears in her breast milk.

For the next two days, Dr. Hansler will send free copies of his book to anyone calling him at 216 397 1657 and leaving an address where the book may be mailed.

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Richard Hansler
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