How E.M.F. – light – from electronic devices affects our brain, mood and wellbeing, and what to do?
From my new book, full of leading edge science as well as tips on preventing cellular, D.N.A. and brain damage from our tools such as cell phones, computers and wi-fi.
“ It makes sense for us to look at the importance of light in our brains, and in our lives, and explain the mechanisms by which our brains are light sensitive I especially want to show how this can can go wrong, especially in relation to Alzheimer’s, and what can prevent this.
We’ll go over factors found to contribute to brain damage, as well as what we can do to protect our brains. We tend to accept a deteriorating memory and relative mental slowness in ageing. But is this a reasonable assumption, or just a belief system we have heard for so long that we think it’s gospel?
THE BRAIN – HOW ITS ELECTRICAL CIRCUIT WORKS
This image is brain energy activity measured by an E.E.G. – an electroencephalogram commonly used to diagnose epilepsy that measures electromagmetic (E.M.F.) light emissions.
In Alzheimer’s the size of the E.E.G. tracing is reduced as the brain actually has less voltage, or power. This is due to less ‘firing’ and signalling between brain cells, at the level of the synapses.
Neurons are brain cells, and synapses are the connecting points between the cells. The neurons are like a web of tendrils, a complex information superhighway. Imagine many wires (neurons) connecting to one junction box, the synapse.
It’s in these junction boxes that messages are transmitted, using neurotransmitter messenger signals. These are brain hormones which lead to feelings we have such as contentment and calmness. These have names such as GABA, noradrenalin and serotonin, well known to us as the neurotransmitter increased by taking anti-depressants such as Prozac.
Let’s look at the neurology happening here. One of our brain’s most important neurotransmitters is GABA – gamma-aminobutyric acid. It’s a regulator, to look for a good analogy, of ‘sparkyness’ in the brain’s electrical field. GABA prevents over-firing of the brain’s neurons.
It is interesting that we can feel this. Sometimes it seems that so many things are going on at once – a sense of complete overwhelm where we have a million things pouring into our sensory system.
Or we say we ‘feel frazzled’, with lots of ideas coming into our mind at once, too fast to act on any of them. This is unsettling to say the least, leading to feelings of anxiety and depression if unchecked.
At the back of the brain is the cerebellum, a special area containing half the brain’s branching tree-like neurons. Here nest the Purkinje cells which release the neurotransmitter ‘GABA’. Anything that interferes with GABA is going to destabilize emotions.
Here’s the bad news: different studies have shown that rats exposed to the cellphone frequency of 890-900 MHz for one hour per day for 28 days were found to have a significant decrease in the number of these critically important GABA producing brain Purkinje cells. The cells had been destroyed!
In GABA’s role in ‘putting the brakes on’ brain excitation, lies one of the body’s primary ways of promoting relaxation, enabling us to stay peaceful and calm. Its inhibitory action helps impulse control.
Perhaps then it’s unsurprising that GABA has been associated with another rising trend – children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Reduced GABA activity has been identified in children who are diagnosed with ADHD.
What’s more, recent studies have found that abnormal functioning of GABA-producing nerve cells plays a role in many neuropsychiatric disorders, where sufferers display altered social behaviours, such as those found in people with autism and Rett syndrome (a neuro-developmental disorder that is part of the autism spectrum).
Serotonin, the brain’s happy hormone, will affect not only moods but sleep. This is because serotonin is actually converted to melatonin.
This explains why depressed people often have sleeping disorders, and vice-versa. Usually they don’t sleep enough or the opposite, they oversleep. So anything affecting serotonin will also have a negative effect on brain function, as good quality sleep and all the benefits derived from this will be affected.
I have many sleep hacks to reduce the ‘Electrostress’ effect, top on the list:
TIPS FOR BRAIN HEALTH
Increase sleep time: Studies show that most of the Western world is sleep deprived. “Getting by” on six hours sleep is not the same as 7 – 8 hours that the brain may need to carry out essential repair processes. Of course, the body can adjust for a few weeks, but why not give your body the serious quality and amount of sleep it needs? For a week or two try getting 30 minutes more sleep and judge if you are more productive and emotionally balanced. The brain does it’s ‘dry cleaning’ in deep sleep, an aspect identified by Alzheimer’s experts as being crucial in brain health.
Reduce light at night: Avoid looking at bright screens for two to three hours before bed. The unnatural blue spectrum light from laptops, bedside digital alarms or phones is the biggest culprit. Used just before sleep it’s proven to reduce the amount of melatonin your body makes, and delay its secretion into your body. Since melatonin is the hormone that controls your sleeping/waking cycle, sleep quality is impaired. Of course a TV screen is similar, but your TV isn’t usually so close to your body so is less harmful.
Bedtime: Reduce all light…any light getting through curtains..
Bright light: Get as much exposure as possible during the day. This will help your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during the day.
Dim red lights: These are the best night lights. Red light interferes the least with your circadian rhythm – your natural 24-hour body clock – and the production of melatonin.
More in part 2!