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Kirsten Lake

Biology Lab 1615 M 1700-1950

Light and Sleep

Light has a large impact on the sleep and wake cycles of animals,

humans and mice included. According to the National Sleep Foundation, and

correlating with an article entitled Light and Sleep, blue light has a greater

effect on sleep (National Sleep Foundation, 2017). This has been supported

through many tests, especially one that show how the shorter wavelengths

affect melatonin. According to this article, before they performed these tests

they hypothesized that the blue light would result in a faster sleep onset

because the wavelengths of the blue light created frequencies that were

more agreeable to the melanopsin levels in the body. Light is important for

our bodies because it sets our circadian cycles. Sleep and arousal is changed

by the wavelengths of different colors (Pilorz V, 2016).

To test the question of whether wavelengths and the roles of

melanopsin really effected the experimental mice there were a few different

tests that were performed. Two separate groups of mice were used to test

on. The first test used blue, green, and violet lights on both sets of mice. For

the wild mice, the green light caused them to have a faster sleep onset,

while blue and violet showed a delayed sleep onset with blue having the

dominant effect. The results from testing the other mice was somewhat

different. The blue light sped up the sleep onset and the length and depth of
the sleep was hardly affected. They found that with the other mice the violet

and green lights delayed sleep onset and shortened the sleep duration. The

wild mice have more melanopsin than the other mice which is part of the

reason the colors affected them differently.

There was also a test done that placed the mice in a dark and light box

and the amount of time spent in each differently colored area was measured.

They did this test to see how the light affected them when compared with

the dark light. The wild mice stayed in the blue zone for only a short time

before entering the dark zone. They also ended up falling asleep later than

when they went into the green zone and the black zone. The reaction from

the other mice showed that they spent more time in the green lighted box

and black lighted box than the blue and black lighted box. This test showed

that the mice that were deficient in melanopsin had a reduced negative

response. This is just one example of the results from a test that are differing

from the original hypothesis. If the hypothesis were correct, the mice would

stay longer in the blue lighted box and not the green one.

More tests were performed with the wavelengths, the next one being

on a more molecular level having to do with the way the melanopsin was

changed by the wavelengths. Still testing the three different colors, they

found that each wavelength of the individual colors brought a different

wavelength reactions. The blue light caused a greater increase compared to

both green and violet. Much of the results showed that the effect from the

green light and from the violet light were so similar that they found it
unnecessary to test with both lights. So, they only tested using the green

and blue lights. They found that the response to blue in the wild mice was

greater than it was in the other kind. In the article Light and Sleep, the test

results almost all came to the same conclusion about blue light having a

greater effect on the melanopsin levels in the mice.

Tests were also performed to measure different things in the mice in

response to the light, such as measuring the plasma corticosterone levels for

both blue and green light. This showed that the blue caused lower plasma

corticosterone levels and the levels after the green light were enhanced. In

addition, they studied things like how different lengths of time for each of the

different colors were changed. In addition to tests on wavelengths, they did

blood tests, tissue tests, and sleep assessments. They ran all these

variations of tests to make sure they had the best data on a higher range of

things so they could have all their data supporting their findings.

After all these tests were completed the data was compiled and

analyzed. They found that the blue light caused a delayed onset of sleep and

it increased certain levels of hormones in their bodies. “We found that blue

light was aversive, delaying sleep onset and increasing glucocorticoid levels.

By contrast, green light led to rapid sleep onset” (Pilorz V, 2016). These

findings were supporting previous tests from other scientists that have been

done and were opposite of what they hypothesized.
Work Cited:

National Sleep Foundation, (2017). How Blue Light Affects Kids and Sleep.

National Sleep foundation, 3 paragraphs.

Pilorzz V, Tam SKE, Hughes S, Pothecary CA, Jagannath A, Hankins MW, et al. (2016).

Melanopsin Regulates Both Sleep-Promoting and Arousal-Promoting Responses to

Light. PLoS Biol 14(6): e1002482. Dol: 10.137/journal.pbio.1002482