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Blue Light: How It’s Disrupting Your Sleep

Blue light is important for our bodies during the day, as it promotes wakefulness. Unfortunately, with the rise of computer and cell phone usage at night, both of which emit blue light, circadian rhythms are deviating further and further from our natural sleep-wake cycles. Luckily, there are now some blue light sleep aids that can help! Blue light blocking glasses, blue light sleep apps, and blue light sleep aids of all sorts are helping people’s bodies produce melatonin again, allowing them to get a good night’s sleep.

Why is blue light bad for sleep?

Photo by Vic

Blue light is one of the signs that tells our bodies it is time to be awake for the day. Blue light from electronic screens is especially bad for sleep because it is more concentrated than natural light. If you consider the amount of light people were exposed to before we had electricity, you will quickly realize it is nothing like the amount and type of light we are exposed to today. Before computers, people only got bright light during the day, when the light encouraged their bodies to be awake and alert. At night, people would use candlelight, a much lower amount of light. The darkness encouraged people’s bodies to produce melatonin and make them sleepy. Today, artificial light interferes with sleep dramatically.

What are the dangers of blue light exposure at night?

Light exposure at night has been linked to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. As stated above, blue light exposure at night tends to reduce the amount of time we sleep, and decreased sleep is associated with increased risk for depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.

How to sleep better

Reducing your exposure to blue light from electronic screens at night will help reset your circadian rhythm and restore natural balance to your sleep. Fortunately, with the release of Apple’s iOS 9.3, and the introduction of Night Shift; using your iPhone in the evening, is now less harmful! We’ve also compiled a list of additional suggestions for assisting in blue light sleep therapy.

Try some of these techniques to minimize exposure to blue light at night:

  1. This one is the simplest, but for many people, the hardest solution: turn off the electronics at night! Try planning the times you will allow yourself to watch TV or use the computer, and stop using them 2-3 hours before bed.
    • Make sure you use an actual alarm clock, not a cell phone, for your morning wake up call, so you don’t have to look at a phone before bed.
    • If you are going to read a paper book in bed, try using a red or orange reading lamp next to your bed. Our employees also like Himalayan salt lamps, which emit a soft pink-orange glow, for lighting bedrooms at night.
  2. Try blue-light blocking glasses. Special orange glasses for blocking blue light allow your body to produce melatonin just as it would if there were no bright lights around.
  3. There are now blue light reducing apps for smart phones, computers, and tablets that will automatically dim the light from your screen and reduce the blue light emitted at night. Most blue light apps will automatically adjust based on the time, giving your screen a red/orange tint as soon as it’s dark out. F.lux is a blue light reduction app for computers and smart phones, and there are different app options for Android based devices that will change the light emitted from your phone.

Sources

  1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/q-a-why-is-blue-light-before-bedtime-bad-for-sleep/
  2. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
  3. https://authoritynutrition.com/block-blue-light-to-sleep-better/

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