If you are experiencing sleep problems as you get older, it may be due to natural eye lens discoloration, a new study shows. The study was published in the September 1 issue of the journal SLEEP. Researchers found that as the eye lens that absorbs blue light becomes more discolored with age, the risk for insomnia increases.
The study involved 970 volunteers. They all had their eyes examined by lens autofluorometry. This non-invasive method determines how much blue light is being transmitted into your retina. Blue light is the part of the light spectrum that influences your normal sleep cycle by triggering the release of melatonin into the brain. Melatonin is the hormone that signals to your body when it’s time to be asleep or awake.
Volunteers were considered to have a sleep disorder if they said that suffered from insomnia often or if they bought sleeping pills in the last 12 months. About 82% of the volunteers confirmed that they had insomnia and used sleep medication.
Researchers used this data to find out that if the levels of blue light transmitted into the retina are low due to discoloration, there is a higher risk for sleep problems. Higher rates of sleep disorders were found in older volunteers, women, smokers, and diabetics.
Sleep quality improved after cataract surgery. As of yet, there is no other method that can improve the transmission of blue light into the retina.
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