Last Friday we told you about the medical tests on shift workers that will be carried out at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. As most of you know we are synchronizing our communication on Kickstarter and the blog. Today we are coming with a blog post in which we review a study on the bright light therapy influence on shift workers.
Shift Working – Blue Blockers
One doesn’t have to be working in a hospital, in the world of gastronomy, or in transport to know what shift work means. Obviously it is not the ideal work pattern, one that we would gladly choose, but sometimes it happens that it is the only way our team can meet their deadline. What can we, and all the people working as doctors, nurses, lawyers, cooks, waiters and numerous other professions do about it?
Well, we could let our circadian rhythm go crazy and then try to go back to normal over the next month (because that’s the most commonly quoted time-period our body needs to get back to the way it was, before we started working at night and sleeping during the day, even for just a few days). But, if we consider shift work for longer than just a few days, the option mentioned above can never be enough.
While looking through medical articles that consider bright light therapy, it is apparent the great majority treat light not as a whole, but as a bunch of different colors (a different color is attached to a different frequency of light wave) combined together to produce white light. There are now more and more theories that it is the blue light (the blue portion of white light) that is not only responsible for waking us up in the morning, but also for preventing us from falling asleep in the evening after long hours spent in front of the computer or on our mobile. If this is true, why not expose ourselves to blue light in the evening and at night while working in shifts, to keep us more alert, and then block the exposure to this part of white light during the day, to help us fall asleep before going back on the night shift?
An interesting experiment was conducted by Sasseville and Hebert on a group of volunteer shift workers. Based on a study by Bjorvatn and Pallessen in 2008, which clearly stated that ‘modification of the light/dark cycle with artificial light at night and a fixed period in a dark bedroom, combined with the use of dark glasses when outdoors, has been shown to facilitate adaptation to night shifts in real work settings’, Sasseville and Hebert further examined the conditions and outcomes of the 2008 findings. The main reason for doing so was to examine the theory that bright light exposure at night is likely to cause transient eye discomfort and headaches. Sassevile and Hebert decided to use auxiliary blue-green light at night, combined with wearing blue-blocking glasses during the day in a real workplace, and evaluate both performance and circadian rhythm adaptation.
The results were promising: ¾ of their study group slept significantly better, experiencing shorter sleep latency and fewer difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep. Total sleep time was also shorter, implying that they tended to be less tired over the course of the study.
The one thing that needs to be taken into consideration when evaluating this study, is that the study group consisted of 4 men who were in good health; non- smokers, taking no medicines and not travelling through more than two time zones in the month prior to the study. Although this study group may not be persuasive for many people, the results were scrupulously analyzed and can therefore surely be the basis for further studies of this technology in the future.
We are excited to share great news with you today!
After a few months of preparations we have finally filled all requirements in order to start medical tests in the USA. The bioethics commission approved our application for the medical tests on shift workers.
The tests will be carried out on a group of a few dozens of shift workers, and will study the influence of the NeuroOn on melatonin production. Due to irregular sleep schedule of shift workers, their secretion of melatonin is deregulated. A lot of doctors believe that the NeuroOn may help shift workers adapt to irregular working schedules, and rest and work more effectively.
Before the tests patient’s saliva and blood will be drawn, and melatonin level will be tested. Then the patients will sleep with the NeuroOn, and after the sleep they will be tested again.
The tests will be held at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. They will begin as soon as the first batch of the prototypes is produced.
Please read about the last week’s events below. We are sorry we post the update so late. We had to deal with 2 major delays of our providers along last week. The polisomnograph we rented arrived with a 5-day delay, after the previous company had told us they hadn't been able to provide us with comprehensive tests 5 days before the tests date.
Last week we were making preparations for the tests that are staring tonight.
We have a rented polisomnograph and a bed in our office. Each of us will stay there for a night (or a few) to take part in the tests. They will include: EEG, EOG, EKG, accelerometer, EMG, pulse, and oxygen saturation.
During the tests we will simultaneously convey signal using the polisomnograph and the NeuroOn, to later compare them, and check the effectiveness of the dry electrodes used in the the NeuroOn's PCB box.
The data we gather will also serve us to improve the algorithms used by the NeuroOn apps.
A few weeks ago we mentioned Fountain, a signal-workflow platform. We will give it a try uploading the signals from the tests. It will not only make the work on the algorithms more effective, but also it will be a good opportunity to optimize the Fountain itself before the NeuroOn launch.
The tests will be described by doctors. Thanks to this practice the data we use to develop the NeuroOn and the mobile apps is checked medically.
At the same time Robert and Mateusz optimized our apps, as some features became slow after they had included them in the final version.
Kasia has been working on the element placement on the PCB. After we made a decision to divide the PCB in 3 parts connected by flex and covered in silicone, we needed a new model. The production of a new PCB box takes about 3 weeks due to the technology it requires. The PCB box iterations are now dependent on this 3-weeks cycle.
We switched to Altium a few weeks ago, and works on the PCB are now quicker, easier, and above all more effective.
We would like to thank all of you who wrote to us and spend their time discussing the NeuroOn features. Thanks to them we came up with a number of findings that will be (or already were) adapted in the NeuroOn. If any of you feels like there is something you know or experienced that might be useful in our work, please share it with us.
In the next update we will tell and show you how the tests are going.
Today we are comming with the second post published also on our blog at http://neuroon.com/blog. The experiment from a few weeks ago worked fine, and we will give it a try in a longer term.
When it comes to a development update, no worries, we will post our work progress later this week.
The Ontogeny of Sleep and Its Neurobiological Basis
Every person, from his or her own experience, knows that sleep changes through the years. This is because specific groups of neurons (brain cells) have to develop to be able to perform sleep functions properly. A newborn’s “sleep neurons” are not fully developed, thus neither is their alertness nor is sleep performed in the same way as it is in adults (as parents well know!).
In newborns, sleep is still divided into REM and NREM phases, but the subphases of NREM are only developed between the 2nd and 6th month. What is also very different from adults is that the REM phase lasts more than half of sleep time, nearly twice as much as an adult. REM time diminishes over the years and reaches its final duration when the child is 2-3 years old.
As we grow older, sleep changes from regular periods interspersed by wakefulness to a more unitary form. Starting from the second decade of our life, our sleep begins to age. We are mainly losing the 3rd and 4th NREM subphases, which can be explained by the falling density of neural synapses (contact spots).
From the neurological point of view there is no single sleep system of the brain. There are multiple, non-specific neuron sets which are cooperating anatomically and physiologically with the group of neurons of the so called “parasympathetic system”, which is responsible for e.g. example, lowering blood pressure, slowing heart rate or narrowing the pupils.
As we sleep, both in NREM and REM phases, less blood flows through the parts of the brain which are responsible for association.