June 29, 2020
Dr. Satchin Panda has spent his career studying the human bodies response to the blue light released from the sun. There is clear evidence that the blue light spectrum that hits the eyes first thing in the morning interacts with a part of your eyes called a melanopsin photopigment that has profound effects on turning on your circadian 24 hour clock every day. This is critically important to all metabolic functions as well as hormonal activity. What is now becoming more evident is not just that light is a major player
in the circadian rhythms, but also our feeding schedule.
"Life forms on our planet have evolved under the strong influence of a daily light/dark cycle. Sunlight being the primary source of energy for photosynthesis, the daily production of photosynthetic biomass has a predictable diurnal rhythm. The daily cyclical production of photosynthesized chemical energy is at the base of the food chain. Daily changes in light and darkness result in diurnal rhythms in other environmental parameters such as temperature and humidity. Such a predictable and robust daily rhythm in food availability and environmental factors has led to the evolution of a ~24 h internal timing mechanism or circadian rhythm to enable organisms to anticipate daily changes and to optimize fitness. Fundamental to this 24 h rhythms is the ability to acquire food when it is available and to store a portion of these resources for utilization during the rest of the day (i.e. the fasting period) without compromising fitness and vitality. The fasting period also serves as a time for standby and repair so that the organism is fit and competent to harvest energy when light (for photosynthetic organisms) or food becomes available. While many non-photosynthetic lifeforms with short lifespan (< a few days) may not derive profound benefit from a circadian timing system, they share fundamental biochemical mechanisms for acquiring and storing food when it is available and then utilizing this stored energy during a quiescent period of fasting for repair, stress resistance and vitality." (Longo et. al. 2016)
This is the crux of the understanding that we, the homo sapiens on Earth, need to realize that biology trumps any desire that we may have to fight against it. We are and have been moving in the wrong direction for quite some time as it relates to what we were meant to do biologically as children and then adults. Third shift workers are the canary's in the coal mine for the risks of working and being awake when the sun is down and sleeping when it is up. This population has some very high risks for metabolic disease based on the data.
Far too many children are waking up way too early or conversely way too late when the sun is neither up at all or has been up for hours. This action goes against the natural effects that the sun's blue light spectrum has on our circadian clock. Secondarily, we eat far to frequently and also at the wrong times of day based on the science. Metabolically, we would be all well served to change these patterns.
Many people have told me that this is all theoretically fine, but it is very hard to put into practice for a family. My response is this, start by making your choices in line with the circadian clock. This allows you to lead by example. Then, educate your children as to the why you are doing so. Third, encourage others to follow suit for a week and report on how they feel. Encourage them to keep a daily diary for a week of intervention versus no intervention. This is the best way to prove cause and effect.
For 1 week:
1) Try and get up with the sunrise and go to bed soon after sunset.
2) Eat only during the light hours of the day. Eat two meals and do not snack.
Assess how you feel after 7 days of this change. The science is pretty clear that this is a good way to exist.