The Dark Side of Blue Light
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 light constantly. Exposure to artificial light after dark is damaging our body clocks and throwing them out of sync. This is causing our sleep to suffer and is also causing diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, obesity and dementia.
The health risks of blue light
It has become clear that not all colors of light have the same effect on the body. Blue wavelengths of light, which are beneficial during the day because they boost mood, energy and attention span, seem to be the most disruptive at night. The rise in popularity of digital devices with screens, as well as energy efficient LED lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue light, especially after dark. These devices include; smart phones, tablets, televisions, laptops and appliances.
Some studies have shown a link between people who are exposed to blue light after dark with diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. This makes sense as what we know about blue light exposure after dark is that is suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences sleep and our biological clock, and people with lower melatonin levels have a higher risk of developing cancer and other metabolic diseases.
Another recent study done at Harvard University showed that disrupting people’s biological clocks through exposure to blue light after dark had negative health impacts over just a short period of time. The people who were studied went into a pre-diabetic state, gained excessive weight and had lower levels of a hormone that makes you feel full after a meal. Doctor Stephen Lockley at Harvard says “Blue light after dark is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep. Short sleep increases risk for depression, anxiety as well diabetes and cardiovascular problems”.
Blue light’s hidden powers
While any kind of light after dark can suppress the secretion of melatonin it is blue light that is most powerful. Harvard professors studied the effects of blue and green light after dark and found that exposure to blue light suppressed melatonin for twice as long as the green light.
In another study, this time at the University of Toronto, compared people exposed to blue light wearing blue light blocking glasses against a control group not wearing the glasses. Those that we not wearing the blue light blocking glasses experienced 63% less melatonin secretion, had trouble falling asleep and woke up feeling tired. Another example of how powerful blue light is at disrupting people’s sleep and health.
Blue light’s efficiency
Our parents and grandparents would have grown up around incandescent lights. Incandescent lights are notoriously low in high energy blue light and produce a much warmer light that does not interfere with melatonin production as much as LED and fluorescent lighting. However these light bulbs used a lot of energy, but what we saved from our wallet from changing to LED lighting we paid back with our health. Modern energy saving light bulbs produce hundreds of times more blue light than incandescent bulbs, keeping us awake for longer and impacting people’s sleep and health.
Protecting yourself from blue and green light
Blue and green light is now found everywhere both day and night. Blue and green light can be found in computers, LED lighting, tablets, smartphones, appliances, car headlights, street lamps and alarms. During the daytime we must reduce blue light down to prevent digital eyestrain, headaches, macular degeneration and sore eyes. The main culprit for this is computer screens. When working on an office on a computer we must be wearing computer glasses or daytime lblueblockers or our eyesight will degrade overtime.
In the evening, after dark, blue light is tricking our brain into thinking its daytime. This prevents us from having a good nights sleep and feeling refreshed the next morning. the fix is simple, completely block blue and green light as soon as the sun sets. You do this by wearing red lens blue blockers after dark until its time to go to bed. Don't be fooled by amber lens blue blockers as these do not block green light which is equally as bad as blue light when in comes to disrupting your sleep and health.
During the day wear computer glasses or yellow lens blueblockers
After dark wear red lens blueblockers
You will notice a difference after just one use.
Want to know more?
For more information on blue light, the health impacts and what to do about it you can download this free eBook below. Its time to start thinking seriously about how blue light is affecting your sleep and health