03 Mar Seeing Blue: The effects of blue light on sleep
These days we’re all connected to a digital device.
We sit in front of computers at work, TVs at home and phones everywhere in between.
I’m no exception. My guilty pleasure is Pinterest. I also find myself perusing Facebook and Instagram or sitting in front of the TV even when I’m not actually paying attention. But I do try to get away from the screens as often as I can and I encourage you to do the same.
Screens aren’t evil. And, they certainly have become a necessary tool of modern western civilization. Our devices have made communication, research and entertainment more convenient and quick. However, there are two sides to every coin. Screens also emit light, in particular, Blue Light. Several recent studies are showing blue light has harmful effects on our health, including sleep quality!
Sleep, Melatonin and Blue Light
You may be familiar with melatonin as a common sleep aid found on the shelves of your local grocery or health food store. Did you know melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the body? Melatonin is the natural sleep hormone produced in the pineal gland (tiny gland in the center of your brain). When your eyes are exposed to blue light, the pineal gland can’t tell if it is natural day light or artificial light. This can wreak havoc on your natural circadian rhythm by preventing the release of melatonin.
Our bodies have evolved to sleep at night and stay awake and alert during the day. The blue light emitted by your cell phone while you’re in bed waiting to become tired enough to fall asleep is telling your brain it is daytime and “stay awake!”
Long term, we see this as altered sleep schedules or patterns, insomnia, difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep. Sometimes, people get sufficient “hours of sleep” but their sleep quality is poor. They never enter a deep sleep, toss and turn, or wake up unrested.
- Turn on the blue light filters on your phones and computers. They aren’t 100% effective but they do help! Most devices have built-in blue light filters but there are also apps you can download. One common, FREE application is F.lux.
- Turn off or set aside all screens at least 1 hour before you crawl into bed. This has additional sleep benefits we can discuss another day. 😉
- Set a timer for browsing social media. Many apps offer built in timers that close the app after a certain amount of time per day or per viewing session (a little acknowledgement to the addiction they’re creating).
- Limit your exposure to LEDs, fluorescents and other artificial lights when the sun is set.
- Look for a quality pair of Amber glasses that block blue light waves.
- Go outside and soak up some sunshine (or rain if you love the water!). It’s truly good for you. And the air quality outside is much cleaner than in-home air (except during wild-fire season and high pollen count days).
- Reconnect face-to-face with your loved ones <3 Yes, you can use a screen to arrange for a live meeting 😉
Blue light affects everyone.
You can expect to hear more about it from me or you can schedule a consultation to learn more ways to reduce the effects of blue light on your health, including additional lifestyle and nutrition recommendations!