Before the dawn of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting and people spent their evenings in relative darkness. In the world we are living in today the evenings are illuminated with artificial light, something we all very much take for granted.
Artificial light after dark has aided in the technological revolution and allowed mankind to get more productivity in our days. However we are paying a huge price for being under artificial light constantly and shielded from the sun.
Exposure to artificial light during the day is leading to a rise in digital eye strain which has symptoms of tension headaches, dry and watery eyes after prolonged computer use or periods of time under LED lighting. This is leading to an increase in cases of macular degeneration and severe eye degradation.
After dark the blue light from your appliances, house lights, shopping malls, TV, smart phone, laptop, street lamps and car headlights is disrupting your production of melatonin which is our healing hormone. Melatonin heals the body from inflammation during the day and is also essential for sleep so we "kinda" want to be producing it optimally!
Below are a list of the best light management hacks to optimise your light environment. These hacks will guarantee less digital eye strain, less migraines, less anxiety, less feeling down, better sleep, better recovery, more energy and less illness.
10. Turn your iPhone screen to red!
After sunset even a tiny fraction of blue or green light between 400-550nm can disrupt your circadian rhythms. Think you are fully protected by wearing blue blocking glasses after dark? Then think again. By having a blue lit LED digital device such as your smart phone pointing at your thyroid after dark is going to give you all sorts of hormone related issues. But what about the built in Night Shift Mode on my smart phone I hear you asking? Well my lab has tested this feature and it does not eliminate all blue light, thats not so good for you or your thyroid. But what if I told you I could turn your iPhone red at the push (or three) of your smart phone's home button? Well here you go, the link below will take you to the instructions.
9. Wear a Scarf
As we now know, exposure to blue light can disrupt the function of our thyroid. We have seen a rapid rise in Hashimoto's and thyroid related illness over the last 20 years. This is why we have turned our iPhone screen red from light hack number 10, but this does not protect us from other sources of blue light that cannot be hacked or haven't yet been hacked. This is why I would always recommend you wear a scarf when under artificial light. Your thyroid is your hormone's powerhouse and you need to protect it. Just a light silk scarf would do fine or anything similar you have laying around the house.
8. Salt Lamps
Blue light from the sun and from artificial light causes damage to your eyes and skin. In fact a recent study proved that blue light accelerates ageing when administered to our skin in isolation from other colours of light. The sun is different has it is full of restorative red light. The red light in the sun repairs any damage the blue causes. The issue with artificial lighting is there is next to no restorative red present so we need to balance out this light with some red light. Okay, so salt lamps are more of a pink colour but their properties allow for healing and the glow created will balance the blue from your laptop or the dreaded office lights! Cheap to buy and great for your light hygiene, I would highly recommend everyone has one when under artificial light.
7. Watching the Sunrise
Another free yet powerful light hack. The rising sun contains the exact frequencies of light to set your master clock and your hormone cascade for the day and night ahead. Seratonin is produced which is later turned into Melatonin after dark in combination with Tryptophan. Dopamine is also released which heightens our wellbeing. Cortisol is also spiked which kicks us into gear to tackle the day ahead. If we miss a sunrise we miss this circadian entrainment and also the hormone cascade which runs our day. Missing the sunrise can mean more calories are consumed in the day, we feel anxious, have low mood and cannot sleep later in the evening. Practice makes perfect when it comes to sunrises, if you aren't a morning person you sure will be after a few weeks to watching the sunrise as you will feel and sleep better than ever!
6. REMedy Sleep Mask
Light shining into our closed eyes as we sleep has been shown in studies to increase insulin resistance, disrupt our hormones and lead to obesity or weight gain. Light could be from passing car headlights, street lamps, neighbours lights, burglar's torch (jokes) or your partner using the bathroom in the night. By ensuring 100% black out in your sleeping environment by using the REMedy sleep mask you will be 100% guaranteed darkness as you sleep. They are also great for meditating and travelling! Black out curtains were tempting to add in here but that doesn't stop the light from nighttime bathroom breaks.
One of the biggest issues in our light environment is computer monitors and laptops screens. They not only emit copious amounts of blue and green light they also flicker. I would recommend that everyone put software on their computers to reduce blue light and flicker. I do not recommend F.lux as they only target blue light reduction whereas IRIS targets both blue light reduction and flicker. Too much flicker can lead to nervous system damage, so its a serious issue in lights we need to target!
4. Day Time Blue Light Filtering Glasses
During the day when under artificial blue light we do not want to block blue light, we want to filter it down so we get less eye and mitochondria damage. We do not want to block blue light entirely as we need it for optimal health and wellness (#context applied here as sunlight is obviously the most optimal source of blue light). The issue with many clear lens blue light filtering glasses out there, in fact about 99% of them, focus on reducing blue light between 400-440nm, however when you see the below LED light emission the target area is much greater.
This is why BLUblox has created the BluLite clear lens and the SummerGlo yellow lens. BluLite targets blue light between 400-495nm and reduces by about 30%, reducing damaging blue light across the entire spectrum, not just a fraction of it. Our SummerGlo lenses go a step further a reduce blue across the entire blue spectrum but with a strong focus on light between 400-465nm. When you are looking for a blue light filtering lens for daytime make sure they filter across the entire blue spectrum and not a tiny fraction as you will be wasting your money
3. Sun Breaks
By far the best of the free hacks! Sun breaks allow your eyes and skin to receive necessary light signals from the sun to keep your hormones balanced and your body clock in sync. Smokers have smoke breaks to give yourself regular 5 minute sun breaks. Eat your lunch outside, even if its cloudy, and you will feel an uplift in mood and a much better hormone profile.
2. Red Light Bulbs
After dark wearing your blue blockers is essential, we all now know this as gospel. However blue light hitting your skin after dark causes ageing, inflammation and can also disrupt your hormones. The skin has its own circadian rhythm and need zero blue and green light between 400-550nm after sunset to go into repair mode. Some people have even gone as far as suggesting that its excessive blue light exposure and not UV that is seeing skin cancer rates sore across the world. Our skin is always under blue light meaning more inflammation and less repair time! This is why I recommend installing red light bulbs in your lamps and house lights. These will allow you skin to repair and relax your body before bed. Incandescent is best as they dont flicker, halogen is next best but is very bright and LED's flicker which is bad, as we know, for our central nervous system. However, I will share a little secret with you if you have been so amazing and read my article this far. BLUblox is not far off releasing a red LED zero flicker light bulb for every country. Watch this space!
1. 100% Blue Light Blocking Glasses (and green....)
After the sun has set our bodies need physiological darkness to be able to shift hormone production from cortisol to melatonin and prepare us for the recovery phase. Physiological darkness can be defined as in the absence of blue and green light between 400-550nm. Conventional "blue blockers" block anywhere between 50%-98% of blue light between 400-500nm. Some companies have even gone as far as 100% from 400-530nm. However, whether your let 2% or 100% of melatonin disrupting blue or green light into your eyes makes no difference to your master clock. Its still gets the message that its not dark and to not optimise melatonin production. So when people say they can buy $4 blue blockers that block 98% of blue light you will know they should have spent that $4 on a red light bulb, a much better investment, or put it towards a scientifically tested and evidence backed, 100% light blocking from 400-550nm red lens such as BLUblox Sleep+. Wear these after sunset and optimise your recovery and sleep. They are also pretty handy for flights to manage jet lag and also for dark winter mornings before the sunrise. For the latest independent review on BLUblox jump to Human Window.
I could list at least another 20 light hacks so stay tuned for a second instalment soon and keep hacking the light and living your best and healthiest life!