The dark side of blue light
We’re all glued to our phones and tablets whenever we get the chance, but while most people have heard they should not look at their phones or tablets before bed, few heed the message.
But did you know that your techy gadgets could be disrupting your sleep?
Numerous studies suggest that blue light in the evening disrupts the brain’s natural sleep-wake cycles, which are crucial for optimal function of the body
But even though blue light is incredibly beneficial during the day, it can be a complete disaster if we are exposed to it in the evening.
Our brains think it’s daytime
The problem is that modern light bulbs and electronic devices (especially computer monitors and smartphones), also produce large amounts of blue light and “trick” our brains into thinking that it is daytime.
When it gets dark in the evening, a part of the brain called the pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin, which signals to our bodies and brains that it is time to get tired and go to sleep.
Blue light, whether from the sun or a laptop, is very effective at inhibiting melatonin production.
This means that our bodies don’t get the proper signal that it’s time to go to sleep, reducing both the quantity and quality of our sleep.
But there’s a simple solution to getting better sleep and still keep your devices in your life!
The key is limiting your exposure to electronic light—especially at night to reduce your access to blue light.
• Try an electronic curfew and put devices away well before bed. This allows your body time at night to produce melatonin naturally. Natural melatonin will help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
• Replace your phone alarm clock with a traditional alarm clock.
• Remove as much artificial light from the bedroom as possible. Keep your TV in the family room.
Tackle the blue light
If you are not prepared to put down the phone or tablet, there are a couple of things you can try to make sure you keep your access to blue light limited at night.
You can install an app called f.lux on your computer which adapts to the lighting in the room and the time of day to mute colours in the evenings.
You could start wearing sunglasses to bed, but you need a special kind: orange glasses, not the sexiest look but if it helps your sleeping patterns, it’s a win!
Orange tinted glasses can block certain wavelengths of light emitted by electronic screens, A recent Swiss study of teenage boys, showed that when the boys donned orange-tinted glasses, also known as blue blockers and shown to prevent melatonin suppression, in the evening for a week, they felt “significantly more sleepy” than when they wore clear glasses.
The latest iphone update has a night mode which you can programme to switch on in the evening, which limits blue light and night, while there are other apps available which provide a similar service for other smartphones.