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A 2019 study found that bright light may protect the heart by increasing the activity of a gene involved in circadian rhythms. Bright light also promotes blood flow to the heart.

Researchers exposed 17 healthy adults to bright light (10,000 LUX, comparable to ambient daylight) for 30 minutes every morning for five days. They collected blood samples from the participants before and after the light exposure at the beginning and end of the intervention.

They found that bright light triggered the activity of PER2, a gene that regulates the body’s circadian rhythms. Activating PER2 protected against hypoxia – a condition in which low oxygen levels (caused by reduced blood flow) can damage the heart. They also found that bright light triggered the release of adenosine, a chemical that plays a role in regulating blood flow.

These findings suggest that bright light exposure activates genes involved in circadian rhythms, potentially improving cardiovascular health. This was a very small study, however, and its findings need to be confirmed in larger groups. However, an abundance of research has shown that bright light exposure promotes sleep, which in turn improves many aspects of human health. Learn more in this clip featuring Dr. Matt Walker.

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