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Non-Ocular Circadian Clock Resetting in Humans


Light therapy is one of the many holistic therapeutic regimens that have increased in popularity over the last thirty years. Its use by physicians has been limited, for the most part, to treatment for skin diseases, like psoriasis, and for certain psychiatric disorders, such as Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD).


Considerable scientific research has been conducted to understand the relationship between light and circadian rhythms -- the biological cycles of sleeping, waking, eating, etc. that govern much of human physiology. Most researchers assume that the eyes are the only parts of the human body that are receptive to light, so most experiments have required subjects to sit and stare into bright lights for extended periods. While these experiments have shown that circadian rhythms can be adjusted by the application of light, the commercial potential of such research is limited, as people find it boring, unproductive, and uncomfortable to stare into a bright light for long periods of time.


However, it has been shown that many animal species respond to extra-ocular light.


Cornell investigators have shown that human circadian rhythms can be regulated and REM sleep can be enhanced by the application of certain amounts and kinds of light to any highly vascularized area of skin, such as the area behind the knee. Two US Patents have issued that cover methods of putting these discoveries into practice.


Potential Applications

This technology opens the door for development of scientifically sound treatments for jet lag, seasonal affect disorder (SAD), sleep disturbances, and adaptation to work-shift changes.

Vibhu Sachdev(212)

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