Blue light to your sleep is like refined sugar to your teeth
There was a time not that long ago, where if you received a phone call on your home phone after 8pm, most of us would’ve felt as if there was an emergency at hand. In today’s society, the opposite is true with the majority of us living on our smartphones, laptops and tablets late into the night. This is problematic to our health in so many ways. Technology moves far faster than our bodies are able to adapt. Perhaps if we knew more about what our addiction to devices was doing to our health on a cellular (no pun intended) level we would be more likely to use technology at a time of day that is less harmful to our health and in moderation.
People exposed to blue light at night can have increased incidences of psychiatric and sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancers. It is estimated that over 95% of Americans use a blue-light-containing device at least one hour before bed. I would guess that Australians would be approximately at the same level of use. Exposure to blue light late at night essentially stimulates the brain and tricks it into thinking it is still daytime. This greatly affects our circadian rhythm (the internal sleep/wake cycle of humans). Blue light stimulation has been shown to have the following affects:
1. Suppression of Melatonin - Melatonin has antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Its natural secretion also maintains the circadian rhythm and regulation of human health.
2. Increase in cortisol (our stress hormone).
3. Decreased mood and increased irritability.
4. Excessive daytime sleepiness.
5. Attention and learning difficulties, particularly in teenagers.
6. Decreased Rapid Eye Movement (REM), or ‘dreaming’ sleep.
What can we do to reduce the impact of this modern health problem?
1. Switch off electronics containing blue-light at least 2 hours before bed. This will allow the natural secretion of melatonin. This means, answering your emails, texts, checking social media and setting your alarm well in advance.
2. If you must be connected, download an app that decreases the amount of blue light exposure.
3. Invest in a pair of orange tinted orange glasses aka “blue-blockers” or TrueDark Twilight glasses. Not only will you sleep better, you will make a fashion statement around the house!
4. Prepare for bed and wind down the natural way by having a relaxing bath, meditating and/or reading a book.
Note: this article was written and finished before 8pm