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AAN 2023 | The importance of light in circadian medicine

Michelle Jonelis, MD, Redwood Pulmonary Medical Associates, Redwood City, CA, discusses the importance of light and its effects on our physiology, sleep, and wakefulness. Experts believe that light is the most powerful zeitgeber, making it an important area of research in circadian medicine. Photosensitive retinal ganglions in the back of the eye detect sunlight and send signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – the ‘pacemaker’ of circadian timing. However, indoor living means that the light we are exposed to is often not as bright as natural sunlight, which alters the signals sent to the SCN and can weaken our metabolism and sleep/wake patterns. Circadian experts have written recommendations for light exposure throughout the day to support our physiology and sleep/wake cycles. This interview took place at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting 2023 in Boston, MA.

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