I was going through my folders of research looking for somethings I need in my thesis discussion. Prone to procrastination, I was inevitably distracted by some abstracts I had saved earlier on green light, melatonin and performance. So, in an attempt to be productive in some regard, I put what I found together in a little blurb and thought I would share:
I think two things are fairly consistent in the world of training and lifting weights. Number 1, no two people will respond exactly alike to the same stimulus (hence, interindividual variability in studies) and; number 2, each individual has, either through necessity or through choice, settled into a particular time of day they feel is the most productive to train at. Which brings up number 3: most athletes, bodybuilders, and gym rats are creatures of habit – eat a certain amount of meals per day at scheduled times, train a certain amount per week, etc. – and any deviation to this structure is likely to have a negative impact on training.
Now, physiologically speaking the mind is most aroused in the morning hours. During this time dopamine and norepinephrine (arousal neurotransmitters) are elevated; however, not every individual trains at this time, thus through adaptation and desires we condition ourselves to increase arousal before exercise. As I mentioned earlier, changes to our structured training schedules often take time to adjust to, and the vast majority of training enthusiasts have no doubt encountered and had to fight through this adversity.
Switching morning workouts to night are perhaps one of the hardest adjustments to make, especially without the use of caffeine or stimulants – which negatively affect sleeping patterns and thereby may compromise recovery. There is, however, a simple and effective solution: green light therapy.
Most have heard of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is released by the pineal gland in the brain in response to low levels of light and acts as part of our internal clock, signaling a decrease in arousal and increase in the desire to sleep. If you remember back to middle school, we perceive the length of light rays bouncing off a given object via colors. So what’s the big deal? The lengths of light rays emitted by the color green have been shown to have the largest impact upon blunting the release of melatonin.
Thus, by reducing the release of melatonin in the evening hours you may be able to increase arousal without the use of stimulants. This increase in arousal translates into improved focus and more intense workouts. This is especially important for those of us living at northern latitudes where the sun sets as early at 4.30 on some winter days. What’s more, green light therapy has been shown to improve mood.
There are several ways to apply this. First, if you work at in an office you can use a bright green light LED to illuminate your work area 1-2 hours prior to leaving for the gym. Second, if you are a coach and spend time traveling at night to an away game, green LEDs can be used on the bus prior to ar***** at the competition. Finally, if you train at home green light can used to illuminate the facility.
Loving RT, Kripke DF, Knickerbocker NC, Grandner MA. Bright green light treatment of depression for older adults. BMC Psychiatry. 2005 Nov 9;5:42.
Wright HR, Lack LC, Partridge KJ. Light emitting diodes can be used to phase delay the melatonin rhythm. J Pineal Res. 2001 Nov;31(4):350-5.
Wright HR, Lack LC. Effect of light wavelength on suppression and phase delay of the melatonin rhythm. Chronobiol Int. 2001 Sep;18(5):801-8.
Skene DJ. Optimization of light and melatonin to phase-shift human circadian rhythms. J Neuroendocrinol. 2003 Apr;15(4):438-41.