As soon as we get into bed, many of us reach for a laptop or smartphone. National Sleep Foundation’s research in 2011 indicated that 90% of Americans reported using an electronic device at least one hour before they attempted sleep.
Blue light from the screens of these devices can disrupt our natural sleep patterns. Blue light, in particular, can help your body naturally prepare for sleep by decreasing exposure to light in the evening.
What Is Blue Light?
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy invisible to the naked eye. The amount of energy contained in a color’s spectral component determines how our eyes perceive it. When we look at a rainbow, we can see the whole range of visible light. When all of the hues in the visible light spectrum are combined to form white light, it looks like sunlight.
It is possible that blue light has unique impacts on alertness, hormone production, and sleep patterns. It is released by LED and fluorescent lights, as well as numerous electronic gadgets, such as laptops and smartphones.
How Does Blue Light Affect Sleep?
It is through the 24-hour cycles of our circadian rhythms that our bodies are able to time critical functions. Sunrise and sunset are the most significant factors in synchronizing circadian rhythms, and this was true for most of human history.
Prior to going to bed, many people are now exposed to more light via electronic devices and artificial lighting. Blue light has the greatest impact on circadian rhythms of all visible light.
The sun is our primary source of blue light exposure. Our body temperature and pulse rate rise as a result of blue light stimulating the areas of the brain that make us feel awake. When it comes to performance and concentration, blue light can help tune our circadian cycle and prepare us for a better night’s sleep.
Several sleep disorders can be treated with blue light exposure if it is timed correctly. It is possible for a person’s circadian rhythms to be out of sync with their environment, which can lead to circadian rhythm disorders. It is possible to improve sleep by using light therapy, particularly blue light, to re-align the body’s circadian rhythms.
The hormone melatonin, which induces sleep, is suppressed in the body when exposed to blue light. At night, when we’re attempting to get some shut-eye, this can be a problem. By tricking our brain into believing it’s still daylight, blue light in the evening can cause circadian cycles to be disrupted and leave us awake instead of weary.
Misalignment of the circadian rhythms over time can lead to a variety of health problems, including diabetes and depression. It’s crucial to know where blue light comes from and how to avoid exposure to it, given the serious health repercussions of blue light exposure after dark.
What Devices Give Off Blue Light?
Many people work under artificial lights and are constantly interacting with the screens of electronic devices. It’s understandable to want to know which of these sources emit blue light.
Common sources of blue light include:
- Fluorescent lights
- LED lights
- Computer screens
- Video game consoles
The good news is that the risks of nighttime blue light exposure can be reduced through relatively simple and fast methods.
Mitigating the Effects of Blue Light
Turning off the lights at night is the best strategy to decrease exposure to blue light. LED and fluorescent lights should be dimmed or turned off at night, and electronic gadgets should be turned off.
The use of blue-blocking eyewear may also be beneficial. For those who have difficulty falling asleep at night, blue light-blocking or amber glasses can help. However, they may not work for everyone.
These suggestions will help you limit blue light exposure that may be interfering with your sleep if you can’t simply turn off sources of blue light when it’s dark.
Make a habit of it: A pre-bedtime alert will remind you to turn off your electronic devices.
When reading in bed, look for a lamp that doesn’t produce blue light. Using red or orange lamps is a good idea, as well as candles or other natural lighting.
Find out if your electronic equipment can be dimmed or if they have a “night mode” that minimizes blue light emission.
It’s possible to use an app to lower the amount of blue light emitted from electronic gadgets before going to sleep.
You can improve your sleep environment by employing an eye mask if you can’t lower or turn off the light sources in your room.
Increased risk of macular degeneration
The long-term effects of blue light exposure are far more dangerous than simply irritating the eyes. Over time, prolonged exposure to blue light can induce retinal cell damage and increase our risk of developing macular degeneration, a condition that can lead to total blindness.
1. Put your devices away at least two hours before bedtime
As the blue light emitted by your digital gadgets interferes with sleep, the simplest remedy is simply to avoid using your devices before night. The more time you spend away from the screen, the better. You can, however, continue using your devices for up to two hours before bedtime without affecting your melatonin synthesis, according to studies. Alternatively: It may be difficult to give up your favorite gadgets for two hours, but that’s a reasonable goal!
2. Adjust your screen brightness and turn on night light filters
Simply turning down your screen brightness might have a big impact on your exposure to blue light. Your melatonin levels won’t be affected as much if you lower the brightness of your screen. It’s a good idea to turn on your night-light filters so that you can protect your melatonin synthesis from the longer wavelengths of light that are used in night mode. For those who want a less melatonin-blocking blue light, you can download special light-altering filters that will turn the blue light into orange or red light.
3. Use devices with smaller screens
Blue light exposure is related to screen size and the distance between your eyes and the screen of your mobile device. Using a smaller screen device (such as a smartphone instead of a laptop) and viewing the screen from a greater distance will help reduce your exposure to blue light.
4. Change your home lights to warm lights or “smart” lights
To help you get a good night’s sleep at home, you can also adjust the brightness of your home’s lighting. You don’t have to worry about your melatonin levels being affected by bright lights, so purchase some night lamps with warm lights or invest in “smart” lights that automatically switch to warmer shades at night.
5. Get protective eye wear
Investment in a pair of blue light-blocking glasses is a sensible compromise if your lifestyle necessitates regular exposure to blue light. Anti-reflective coatings on lenses may also help reduce your exposure to blue light.
Additionally, you may want to think about resetting your circadian rhythm by ensuring that the majority of your blue light exposure occurs during daylight hours. This can be accomplished in one of two ways.
LED blue light exposure
Environmental concerns and the search for energy-efficient lighting may conflict with human health if blue light has adverse health impacts. LED and compact fluorescent lightbulbs are more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs we used to have. However, blue light is more prevalent in their output.
The mechanics of fluorescent lights cannot be altered, however the coatings inside the bulbs can be modified to generate a warmer, more yellow light. In terms of efficiency, LED lights are superior to fluorescent lights, but they also create a significant amount of blue light. It has long been known that incandescent bulbs produce some blue light, although the amount is far lower than that of most fluorescent lamps.
Protect yourself from blue light at night
For nighttime illumination, use low-power red lights. To avoid disrupting the circadian clock and suppressing melatonin, use red light.
Avoid gazing at bright screens two to three hours before going to sleep.
Blue-blocking glasses or an app that filters out the blue/green wavelength at night may be beneficial if you work night shifts or spend a lot of time on electronic gadgets.
Take use of the sun’s rays during the day, which can help you sleep better at night and keep you alert during the day.
The bottom line
If you’re exposed to blue light from cellphones, computers, and bright lights at night, you may not be able to get a good night’s sleep.
Try limiting your exposure to blue light in the evening if you have a history of insomnia.
Glasses with an amber color may be very helpful..
Several studies have shown that they can help people sleep better.