“Don’t fight the Fed!” This is a common Wall Street saying, which means we don’t want to invest in stocks when the Federal Reserve system is working to slow the economy. When the Fed is creating money with low rates and bond buying, they are boosting the economy and inflation, but when they raise rates they are lowering both. Their control of the money supply — the very printing of money with nothing backing it — means fighting what the Fed is doing is a bad idea.
We humans seem to think that we can thwart natural forces, but time after time we see the opposite. When we put harsh restrictions on oil production, reducing the available supply, we see the price of gasoline goes up — this is simply the natural playing out of supply and demand. With the high oil prices, and most of our commerce depending upon transport of goods around the country, we see the cost of groceries and most everything we buy going up. Stores have to pass along their rising costs if they want to stay in business. Prices and markets follow economic laws, and attempts to thwart the laws are bound to fall flat.
We have natural laws that have been in place for much longer than we’ve been alive. But with our modern conveniences, we somehow think that we can change the rules, that we can fight nature. Something as simple as indoor lighting changes our natural balance. We do many non-natural things each day because we eat processed food we don’t have to expend energy to get, drive cars instead of walking, take drugs when we have symptoms we don’t like, use stimulants to get us moving and depressants to help us sleep, and we stay indoors in controlled climate conditions most of the year. Should we be surprised our metabolism is confused and acting poorly so much of the time?
Follow the daily rhythm — all of it
We’ve heard how light, especially in the blue ranges, can reduce melatonin production and cause trouble falling asleep. Mobile phone companies went so far as to offer red-shift programs so you could reduce the amount of blue light on their devices at night. Certainly this is a step in the right direction. But we have plenty of other sources of light in the evening, and then, right at bedtime, we turn them off and expect to sleep. But look at how a natural day progresses: first dawn’s early light, growing stronger into noon, then gradually decreasing toward evening, then quite dark at night. This is quite different than the binary on-off of lights that we use today. And when we live mostly by artificial lights we mute the extremes: we aren’t usually in pitch darkness at night, and just as bad, we don’t get bright light during the peak of the day. Our bodies, however, are still trying to ramp up and ramp down in a rhythm. That’s what they were built to do, and in the presence of same intensity light for 16 hours, with 8 or less of darkness at night, we expect our bodies to follow along. And to our great surprise, they don’t.
Light/dark cycle problems are not just confined to sleep issues. The circadian rhythm (the 24-hour cycle of our biology) affects how we metabolize food, how we build and utilize energy, release specific hormones, relax, and sleep. Published in Diabetologia, which is the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, researchers studied a group of overweight volunteers who were in otherwise good health to observe their metabolisms under fairly natural conditions (bright day and dim evening), and un-natural but typical artificial light conditions of dim day and bright evening. Both groups had the same dark conditions for night. They were researching how the light cycles affected insulin resistance, diabetes, and fat storage. The more natural bright day and dim evening group had better sleeping metabolic rates, lower glucose through the main portion of the day, increased energy expenditure, lower blood pressure, and a higher post-dinner glucose level (which the researchers attributed to better digestion.) All these factors meant greater insulin sensitivity and lowered risk of diabetes. Simply by following a natural light cycle, the participants also had a better insulin cycle. And the artificial light cycle group produced much less melatonin, which is needed to promote sleep.
How does this work?
Our bodies have a process which takes approximately 24 hours to complete. As with any metabolic function, this process occurs through the actions of proteins. At the beginning of the cycle, these proteins are at a low level. They build up to a threshold over hours where they begin to reduce the further production of those proteins. They change the production by signaling expression of certain “clock” genes, causing a feedback loop of lowering and then rising the levels of these proteins produced. This cycle happens to cells throughout our bodies and is the natural cycle built into us. However, this cycle is not precise. Like an old-fashioned watch that loses or gains time after a while, the body’s cellular clock wanders.
We also have a master clock, located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) at the base of the brain. This clock receives information transmitted from specialized retinal photoreceptors. This master clock updates the cellular clocks of the body, keeping them synchronized to the actual 24 hour daily cycle — assuming, of course, that they are receiving the natural light levels throughout the day and night. The SCN is sort of the pacemaker for the body’s circadian rhythm, bringing the cellular clocks of the body into synchronization. Jet lag occurs when we travel many time zones away and tell the SCN to resynchronize the body instantly. It can’t do that quickly. because the cellular biochemical sequence of the individual “cellular oscillators” throughout the body is basically a 24 hour process, and can be shifted only gradually.
When no SCN synchronization is present, such as constant dark or light conditions for 24 hours, the cellular oscillators start to lose synchronization even with each other, causing confusion throughout the body. This was shown in a “cave study”, where participants spend various numbers of days in a dark cave with no timepieces or changing light conditions, as published in The Journal of Physiology, where researchers from the Department of Physiology, University of Manchester studied 15 participants to chart their metabolic rhythms. Subjects formed different sleep habits from each other, but those habits followed a regular pattern, usually 25-27 hour cycles. Their temperature cycles were closer to 24-26 hours, while urinary electrolyte secretions were as low as 16 hour cycles. Various metabolic functions were “free-wheeling”, but stayed in rhythmic cycles that varied from one to another.
Light night, light sleep
Published in The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, researchers at the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV and at the Department of Neuroscience, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH gathered data from numerous individual studies to determine the impact of light at night. From these studies, they determined a universal tendency for light during normal sleep hours to cause weight gain, impaired glucose processing, and altered overall metabolism. The worst cases appeared with night shift workers, some of which developed diabetic symptoms during studies.
The natural day cycle is dim light in the morning, increasing to bright light during the height of the day (even on cloudy days), then decreasing to dark at night. Those who live outside urban areas know just how dark the nights can be — those of us in the urban areas rarely see truly dark nights. Getting both the bright light and the full darkness in a daily cycle is most effective in synchronizing your metabolic cycle. You may know of the importance of dark at night, but don’t forget the value of bright light during at least part of the day. If you are trying to manage weight or diabetes, diet is a big factor, but not the only factor. You may have underestimated the power of the daily light cycle.
Good health is a multi-facetted effort. It’s “all hands on deck.” If you don’t work during the dark hours, aligning your daily light cycle with the natural cycle is one of the easier things you can do for your health. Fighting your natural design is a losing proposition. Don’t fight the daily light rhythm.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
Everything in this life works on rhythms and cycles. They are automatic and are part of our physiology. If we align to them then our health will be maximized; if we become out of sync with them our health will be compromised. The best thing about all this is that you have choices to make — you’re not stuck without an option. So in these studies we can see the light and dark or night and day cycle affects the blood sugar, the blood pressure, and the metabolism just to name a few. Other studies have shown night workers have a greater chance for cancer — why? Because lack of darkness at the appropriate time also affects the immune system, and because the blood sugar is already raised because of living in light at the time of the day one should be in darkness. That high blood sugar feeds the cancer and all other pathogens, so not only does one get an immunosuppression from altered light / dark cycles because it raises blood sugar — it also causes pathogens to grow more rapidly: this is the double negative outcome.
So what’s the answer? Get back to basics. At Total Health Institute we have taught the Seven Basic Steps to Total Health for over 30 years. These are foundational. And one of those basics is sleep. The most powerful sleep follows this cycle, which is getting to bed by 8 PM, waking up when the sun comes up, and making sure your bedroom has absolutely no light in it to block normal melatonin production. We all seek the quick fix — the pill, the gadget, the thing that allows us to keep doing the wrong thing. Instead just go back to basics and you will reap a tremendous harvest of health.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.