Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lights at night 'could trigger depression'

Cripes!  I have the lights on until midnight usually.  I must be one sick puppy.  Generalizing from mice to people is stupid.  Mankind has a very long prehistory of sitting around staring into fires at night, for a start

Using your iPad or watching television late at night could make you depressed, according to a study that shows exposure to bright light during sleeping hours affects behaviour and stress levels.

American scientists found that mice regularly exposed to light at night became `depressed' - showing less interest in doing `fun' things, being less likely to explore new objects in their cages and not moving around as much. They also had higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

Samer Hattar, professor of biology at Johns Hopkins University in the US, said: "Basically, what we found is that chronic exposure to bright light - even the kind of light you experience in your own living room at home or in the workplace at night if you are a shift worker - elevates levels of a certain stress hormone in the body, which results in depression and lowers cognitive function."

He and his colleagues also found that the bright light affected special cells in the mice's eyes, called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, which affect the part of the brain that manages mood, memory and learning.

Although the study was in mice, Prof Hattar said mice and men were similar in certain ways and so the study held lessons for people.

"I'm not saying we have to sit in complete darkness at night, but I do recommend that we should switch on fewer lamps, and stick to less-intense light bulbs: Basically, only use what you need to see," he said.

A spokesman for Johns Hopkins: "When people routinely burn the midnight oil, they risk suffering depression and learning issues, and not only because of lack of sleep. The culprit could also be exposure to bright light at night from lamps, computers and even iPads.

The study is published in the journal Nature.


Fever can be a child's friend': New research claims a high temperature could actually help children get better

Some old wisdom rediscovered.  Before antibiotics, a fever was the only known way of curing syphilis

When the flu season hits, many parents will be reaching for the cold compresses and paracetamol to cool their feverish child.

But it seems a high temperature could actually help children battle an illness.

An American paediatrician has revealed the high fevers typical of many childhood illnesses can help force a child to slow down, rest and sleep more - all vital in recovering.

Hannah Chow-Johnson, assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said she was often asked what to do about children with a high temperature.

She said: 'My most frequent calls are from worried parents who want to know how high is too high of a fever.  'What many parents don’t realise is that often, fevers are their child’s friend.'  'Fevers can actually help your child recover more quickly, especially if he or she is battling a viral illness.

'I often wish thermometers had a gauge that read either ‘fever’ or ‘no fever.’  'That would definitely help parents who worry if their child has a fever that’s too high.'

Researchers at Great Ormond Street Hospital have in the past claimed tackling a fever with medicine before it is allowed to run its course, may slow recovery time, because the temperature can help to kill the bacteria causing the illness.

Fever is defined as a temperature over 37.5c, and can be a sign of something serious.  Parents are advised to seek medical help if a child's temperature reaches 40c or above.

If your child is also unusually sleepy, has a rash, cold extremities, a stiff neck or difficulty breathing, it is always best to contact your GP.

But most fevers are caused by a viral infection, and clear up on their own within a few days.

Despite the advice, the official NHS line on children running a high temperature is to keep them hydrated, undress them to their nappy or pants, and to treat discomfort with paracetamol or ibuprofen.


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