COVID-19 Further Whacks Circadian Rhythms – The Connection between Light, Health & Immunity Becomes More Important

Back in January, we predicted that a new focus on circadian health would be a top 2020 wellness trend, with the regular timing of the right kind of light as the key to synching up our body clocks, which, in turn, is the key to good sleep and overall cellular health.

Our circadian clocks were already out of whack pre-coronavirus. Then, with indoor quarantining and work from home, they became even more radically disrupted overnight: Work without end, people sleeping in longer and missing the circadian cue of morning light, a life spent entirely in front of screens, less time outside in natural light, bedrooms turned into offices, and people juggling work and child and elder care at all hours.
Chronobiology experts, like those at the University of Cologne, are now sounding the alarm on how COVID-19 is blighting our circadian clocks, arguing that we need more “zeitgebers,” more rigid timing of everyday activities, such as exposure to light and dark and mealtimes, as a crucial health intervention in what could be a long socially distanced future. Especially, as evidence mounts that the human immune system is controlled by circadian rhythms.
Circadian solutions will become more important in the months and years ahead, from lighting products working to deliver the right light at the right time to a new focus on circadian optimization for immune health.

This is from the “Focus Shifts from Sleep to True Circadian Health” trend in the 2020 Global Wellness Trends Report.

Summit Trend in the News

Circadian rhythms and immune function Timeshifter

This new report takes a deep dive into the recent medical studies showing that the human immune system is controlled by circadian rhythms. 

Beyond sanitizing and social distancing – a healthy circadian rhythm may increase resilience to fight COVID-19The Conversation
Further analysis of why a key weapon in boosting immunity (and for boosting overall health) is keeping your body clocks in synch by following a daily routine of sleep and daylight and dusk exposure and timing your eating and exercise around the sun’s natural cycles. 

Let there be circadian light ScienceBlog 

This new study reveals that the wavelengths—the colors—at sunrise and sunset have the biggest impact on brain centers that regulate our circadian clock, mood and alertness. 

Study finds daily light exposure improves sleep and mood during COVID-19 Architect Magazine  

A new study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute explores how quarantining indoors and working from home is impacting people’s daily light exposure—and how that is impacting their sleep, health and mood. 

Forecasting the Future

  • Our homes are *everything* now, and COVID-19 is accelerating the trend of making our live-work spaces more well. Lighting will become increasingly key: More people will bring circadian lighting into their homes. Many companies make lighting systems/bulbs that promote alertness in the day and support sleep at night, but people will increasingly realize they’re not all the same. Experts say that products that emit white light enriched in the 480nm wavelength in the day and deplete 480nm for evening use are best. And evidence mounts that the color of light might matter more: bright, blue light in the day and red, yellow and orange color spectrums at dusk.
  • Immune health is fast becoming its own “lane” in wellness, from wellness resorts with new immunity-focused programs to immunity supplements, some science-based, some not. The medical evidence agrees that our circadian rhythms control our response to potential infection. It will become increasingly clear that focusing on “immunity” without addressing circadian management is not the best science.
  • Science also increasingly reveals there is a big range in people’s circadian rhythms. The future is more individualized solutions and apps that time interventions, including light and melatonin, to people’s clocks: their work schedules, natural sleep “clock,” caffeine intake—even alerting them when to eat and exercise.
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