NASA has invented a lightbulb that promises a remedy for sleepless nights at a cost of $450,000 each. The light strip is designed to help astronauts on the International Space Station, but the technology is expected to become available to the public in the next few years.
The bulb helps regulate the release of melatonin, the key sleep hormone, by changing colour in the night.
Melatonin levels are triggered by receptors in the retina. The bulb’s sleep cycle will start with a reddish-pink cast to release the hormone from the pineal gland into the bloodstream, telling the mind it is time to shut down.
A creamy white light will help stabilise the hormonal levels. It will later shift to a pale blue, which suppresses melatonin and, according to Boeing, which is making the bulbs for NASA, eases the body into wakefulness.
Astronauts on the space station see a new dawn every 90 minutes, so their sleeping patterns are constantly disrupted.