What is blue light?
Blue light is a type of light that is emitted from electronic devices such as televisions, smartphones and computer screens. It is also present in the sun’s rays.
Blue wavelength light is on the visible light spectrum, which means that it is bright and energetic.
This quality makes it a useful tool for alertness during daytime activities, but can also cause difficulty falling asleep when used at night.
How does blue light affect sleep?
Ultimately, blue light affects your hormones and alters your circadian rhythm.
When it hits the retina, blue light signals the release of dopamine, which is a hormone that helps control the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm is responsible for regulating various physical functions, including altering the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps promote sleep.
When you have been exposed to more blue light than your body can handle, your brain signals that it’s time for work, not rest. Therefore, your body will suppress melatonin production.
This reduced melatonin secretion will disrupt your circadian rhythm, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
There are several ways to reduce blue light exposure at night and improve sleep.
One way is to avoid using electronic devices in the hours leading up to bedtime. If you must use electronic devices, try to use a device with an orange or red filter instead of a blue one.
You can also install an app on your smartphone or computer that filters out blue light.
Finally, you can purchase glasses that block blue light.
Is blue light bad for sleep?
People have long suspected that blue light has a negative effect on sleep.
However, there has been little scientific evidence to support this claim…until recently.
A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that exposure to blue light before bedtime significantly reduces sleep quality and quantity.
The study participants in this randomized controlled trial were divided into two groups.
The first group was exposed to blue light for two hours before bedtime, and the second group was exposed to green light.
The results showed that the group exposed to blue light had less deep sleep and more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is associated with poor sleep quality.
They also slept for an average of 39 minutes less than the group exposed to green light.
Blocking Nocturnal Blue Light
So what does this mean for you? If you’re having trouble sleeping, try avoiding screens and other devices that emit light in the spectrum in the hours before bedtime.
Should we block blue light early in the day?
While blue light exposure at night can negatively impact sleep, exposure to blue light early in the day may have the opposite effect.
Blue light exposure early in the day can help boost alertness and energy levels, helping people feel more awake and productive.
It can also help increase focus and concentration, making it a great tool for students or workers who need to be productive during the day.
Blue light exposure early in the day can also be helpful for people with depression.
Some studies have shown that blue light exposure can help improve moods and decrease feelings of depression.
Blue light therapy, which is a type of therapy that uses blue light exposure to treat mental health conditions, has been found to be an effective treatment for depression.
While blue light exposure early in the day can have some benefits, it is important to note that too much blue light can still be harmful.
Exposing yourself to blue light early in the day should not replace getting enough sunlight outdoors or engaging in other healthy activities.
It is also important to avoid using electronic devices before bedtime, as they emit significant levels of blue light that can interfere with sleep.
This exposure to an electronic device will alter the body’s natural circadian rhythms and might cause sleep disorders.
For that reason, blocking blue light is a good first step toward increasing melatonin production and getting your body back into its natural circadian timing. That means better sleep!
What devices emit blue light?
Blue light emitting electronic devices are around us every day.
Television, cell phones, laptops, and digital alarm clocks all emit blue light, which can be disruptive to our sleep patterns.
Television is one of the biggest emitters of blue light exposure
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of television per day for children, and that number goes up to three hours for teenagers.
Blue light from televisions can keep us up at night by disrupting our natural sleep rhythms.
Smart phones are also a big source of blue light exposure
We keep them close to our faces when we’re using them, and the artificial light they emit can seriously disrupt our sleep.
One study found that people who used their cell phones before bed took longer to fall asleep and had poorer quality sleep than those who didn’t use their phones before bed.
The best thing to do with a phone in the evening is to put it on night mode. Although it’s not as good as not being on it, sometimes we just have to balance both sleep and technology use for our own good.
Laptops are another device that emits blue light
We tend to use them in bed, which can wreak havoc on our sleep. A study published in the journal Applied Ergonomics found that people who used laptops in bed took longer to fall asleep, had poorer quality sleep, and were more tired the next morning than those who didn’t use laptops in bed.
Digital alarm clocks also emit blue light
One study published in the journal Chronobiology International found that exposure to blue light from digital alarm clocks suppressed melatonin levels and disrupted circadian rhythms. This can lead to poor quality sleep and fatigue the next day.
Now, don’t use this as a reason to quit your job, but those fluorescent lights might be messing up your circadian rhythms!
Those lights might be great for mental alertness when you’re at the office, but not so good if you’re looking at going to sleep anytime soon.
White light emitting eReaders
Can you believe that the device that you use right before bed might be a harmful light-emitting device?
When we think of these devices, we always think of cell phones but never of eReaders like Kindles and Nooks.
In conclusion – how does blue light affect sleep?
In conclusion, blue light can have a significant impact on sleep, and therefore, will keep you from optimal health.
It can delay the onset of sleep, shorten the length of time spent in deep sleep, and reduce the overall quality of sleep.
This can lead to problems such as drowsiness, lack of energy, and poor concentration.
Chronic fatigue gives you an increased risk of heart disease, sleep apnea, and a host of other chronic medical issues.
While there are some ways to mitigate the effects of blue light, such as using blue light blocking glasses or filters, it is best to avoid exposure to blue light before bedtime if possible.