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Researchers study personalized light therapy

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We're heading into some of the darkest days of the calendar year. It's an especially challenging time for people who have trouble adjusting to the increasing dark.

The Innovation Trail's Marie Cusick explains that research into our individual cycle of sleeping and waking at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy may help.

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Existing therapy for people who are impacted by natural changes in light, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, involves regularly sitting in front a light panel.

But researchers at the school’s Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center are trying to create a more nuanced and personalized system of therapy that could also help people who work odd hours in changing light conditions, like members of the military or air traffic controllers.

They’re working to create a wearable device that would measure a person’s unique circadian rhythm. Professor John Wen says, “The idea is then to control the light, artificial lighting, so that you’ll be in peak performance when the time is right,”

Lighting studies are currently being done on fruitflies, but researchers plan on working with human subjects within the year.

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