Mars Astronauts to be Alert on Arrival, Thanks to Canadian Technology

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Harvard University scientists have selected low-intensity Sunnex Biotechnologies Lo-LIGHT lamps to improve mood, alertness, and performance in an international space project, the 105 day Mars Mission. Sunnex Biotechnologies Lo-LIGHT lamps use a patented low-intensity green light technology that has been tested for countering night shift worker fatigue in military and university research centers as well as in operational settings. Lo-LIGHT therapy lamps have also been used to alleviate the winter blues and have been found in clinical studies to safely provide rapid and sustained relief of major and bipolar depression. http://www.sunnexbiotech.com

It's not pharmaceutical, cannot be addictive like a drug, and has been shown by extensive testing by neurologists to be effective in adjusting the body's clock.

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Harvard University scientists have selected low-intensity Sunnex Biotechnologies Lo-LIGHT lamps to improve mood, alertness, and performance in an international space project, the 105 day Mars Mission. Lo-LIGHT lamps use a patented low-intensity green light technology that has been tested for countering night shift worker fatigue in military and university research centers as well as in operational settings.

A manned voyage to Mars will challenge the physical resources of the astronauts chosen for the trip. On arrival and while working on the planet, they will be able to fight fatigue and stay alert thanks to a Canadian technology that regulates their bodies' internal clocks. This innovative technology is the Sunnex Biotechnologies' Lo-LIGHT, which has the ability to help the body work and sleep on whatever schedules are required.

"It can be used to align the body's internal clock with a work schedule," said Murray Waldman, Sunnex Biotechnologies' president in Winnipeg, Canada. "It works with night shift workers who are out of synch with the rising and setting of the sun. It is now being evaluated to demonstrate that it will also work for space travelers."

The Sunnex Biotechnologies' Lo-LIGHT therapy lamp readily adapts to the problem of resetting the body's work and sleep phases in outer space where day and night are not regulated by the earth-bound periods between sunrise and sunset

The selection of the Sunnex Biotechnologies Lo-LIGHT lamps for the Mars 105 Day Mission by scientists from Harvard University is a milestone for developer Murray Waldman, who has a graduate degree in biophysics from the University of Manitoba. The patented technology in the Lo-LIGHT lamps provides a soft light from a specially selected portion of the green spectrum. This makes them uniquely adaptable for use safely and comfortable in any work environment.

The tests of the Sunnex Biotechnologies Lo-LIGHT lamps on a simulated Mars voyage have benefits beyond the space program. "The things that we are learning here about how to enhance performance will be useful in many work environments," Waldman explained. "There are lots of people who work night shifts in stressful or confined places that require alertness. Think of fire and rescue workers, power plant controllers, air traffic controllers, medical staff, and the military."

For the 105 day simulated Mars mission, astronauts were put into a hermetically sealed chamber designed to simulate a spacecraft. Their water was limited to a fixed supply, their phone calls had a 20 minute delay, as they would on the actual Mars voyage, and they used the Sunnex Biotechnologies lamps that provides a gentle green light to regulate their bodies' waking and sleeping times. The mission, which ended in July, is a precursor to a 520 day simulated Mars voyage scheduled for 2010.

In space, as on earth, light management will be part of maintaining the body's sense of the 24-hour rhythm of day and night, of alertness and sleep, and of health," Waldman said. "That regularity will be critical to the astronauts' ability to work at their optimal state of alertness."

The Lo-LIGHT system uses low intensity bulbs that produces a mild green light. It cannot cause eye damage, Waldman explained. "The low-intensity green Lo-LIGHT technology avoids the risk of retinal damage from blue visible light wavelengths, a recognized potential hazard of other light therapy lamps. It can be used to safely help pilots of vessels - or spacecraft - in the darkness of night."

The Sunnex Biotechnologies Lo-LIGHT has already developed a track record for helping shift workers in critical applications maintain alertness regardless of the time of the day that they work.            

The U.S. Coast Guard has used the Sunnex Biotechnologies low intensity technology to develop a program to align the internal body clocks of mariners on midnight watches with their work schedules. The USCG's Crew Endurance Management System, designed to alleviate night shift fatigue, is recommended for commercial vessels.

The Sunnex Biotechnologies Lo-LIGHT has also been used for many years to combat the winter blahs, the medical term for which is Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The shorter day lengths in winter influence the body's internal clock, which uses sunlight to recognize seasonal patterns. These seasonal changes affect mammals and can take the form of breeding cycles or hibernation. In people, these seasonal changes can affect eating and sleeping activity as well as mood.

Clinical studies of the Lo-LIGHT process have shown dramatic success in the treatment of bipolar and major depression, Waldman said. "These studies found that a one week, non-invasive protocol achieved rapid and sustained relief from depression."

"Where people need to have the stimulation of daylight or to have daytime alertness at night - or at any time - the Sunnex Biotechnologies Lo-LIGHT therapy lamp can help," Waldman said. "It's not pharmaceutical, cannot be addictive like a drug, and has been shown by extensive testing by neurologists to be effective in adjusting the body's clock."

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