Blue Light and Sleep
Our body has an internal clock in the brain that regulates our circadian rhythm or the 24-hour biological cycle. This biological cycle influences many internal functions including the decision when your body is primed for being awake or asleep. To do this the circadian rhythm needs signals from the external environment, and these signals are daylight and darkness.
Sunlight and white light contain a mixture of different kinds of wavelengths. They each have a notable amount of blue light. Getting blue light, especially from the sun in the daytime helps you stay alert and awake. It also improves your performance and mood. Blue-wavelength light sends signals to your brain’s internal clock that it’s time to be awake and active.
Now, modern electronic devices, especially computer monitors produce large amounts of blue light. If you’re exposed to electronic devices during the evening, they can spoil your internal clock.
When it gets dark, the pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin to signal your body that it’s time to go to sleep.
However, blue light is very effective in inhibiting melatonin production. And no matter if it comes from the sunlight or your electronic devices, it ends up reducing both the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Melatonin suppression in the evening can lead to various health problems, such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, cancer, and depression.
In order to protect yourself from the blue light from electronic devices, you can try a couple of things. Wearing amber-tinted glasses are one of the easiest ways to block blue light.
When you wear these glasses, your brain doesn’t get the signal that it is supposed to make you stay awake.
When people use amber-tinted glasses, they produce just as much melatonin as if it were dark. The light in the room from an electronic device is blocked.
The glasses manage to cancel out the melatonin-suppressing effect of the bright light.
Studies show that people who wear these glasses experience major improvements in sleep and mental performance.
Moreover, the blue-light-blocking glasses can help shift workers a great deal if they wear them before bedtime.
And even older adults with cataracts can benefit from blue-light-blocking lenses. A study showed improved sleep in these individuals and significantly reduced daytime dysfunction.
However, not all studies support the use of blue-light-blocking lenses or glasses, some suggest that there is a lack of high-quality evidence supporting their use.
Nevertheless, you can try them and see the results they have on you.
Other Blocking Methods
If you’re not a fan of glasses, there are other options.
You can install a program called f.lux on your computer and it automatically adjusts the color and brightness of the screen according to your timezone. When it is dark outside, it simply blocks all blue light and gives your monitor a faint orange hue. This is an easy and practical way to protect your natural circadian rhythm from the blue light of electronic devices.
Also, there are other similar apps for your smartphone.
Some other tips for you:
- Turn off all lights in your home at least 1–2 hours before bedtime.
- Get a red or orange reading lamp, that doesn’t emit blue light.
- Keep your bedroom entirely dark or use a sleep mask.
- You should expose yourself to plenty of blue light during the day.
The blue light emitted from smartphones, computers, and bright lights may inhibit your sleep if you’re exposed to it in the evening before going to bed.
If you have a history of sleeping problems, you should reduce your exposure to blue light during the evenings.
Amber-tinted glasses may be especially effective, also programs or apps like f.lux can help you control blue light on your electronic devices.