Blue Light & Sleep

Blue Light & Sleep

Have you ever laid down exhausted to go to sleep and decide to scroll through your phone for a moment to wind down?  Just to find yourself after a few minutes feeling wide awake again?  This isn’t because you may not actually be tired, this may have everything to do with your phone.  Blue light is a natural light that we get from the sunlight and artificially from lightbulbs, our screens, from television to computers to even our phones.  Blue light plays a huge part in making your body feel awake, alert, and boosts your mental sharpness.  So obviously it is a wonderful thing all the time right?  No, wrong.  It has its negative sides as well. 

 

Blue Light Disrupts Sleep

Blue light signals your internal clock helping your circadian rhythm stay balanced.  Your circadian rhythm is the natural cycle your body goes through in about a 24 hour cycle.  From telling your body when it is time to wake up to winding your body down for a good night’s sleep.  

Blue light can actually cause your body to delay the making of melatonin, which is a natural hormone your body makes to help you fall asleep at night.  So when you are lying in bed scrolling through your phone thinking you are relaxing yourself, you are actually counteracting that and waking yourself up. 

The blue light from screens can actually disrupt your sleep, and even disrupt your entire circadian rhythm.  This is because your eyes take in the blue light from your screen and it can actually trick your brain into thinking that it is daytime, causing your body to slow down making melatonin and trying to boost your wakefulness. 

So even though you laid down feeling tired it can now take you even longer to fall asleep at night.  Blue light can affect anyone of any age, from children up to adults.  Over exposure to blue light can also cause digital eye strain leading to soreness, dryness, and vision blurring.  It can also lead to macular degeneration causing the loss of eyesight in the long term.  

 

Blue Light Positives

Not all blue light is bad though.  We need blue light during the day.  Blue light therapy is also used to help treat depression, reduce fatigue, improve your mood, and even improve your daily performance. 

How does blue light turn from so positive to so negative quickly? 

On average Americans spend almost seven hours a day in front of some sort of screen.  Whether that is a television, computer, phone or tablet.  Being on our devices that long in a day can really mess with the circadian rhythm depending on when we are exposing ourselves to all this artificial blue light.  Being on a device so close to bedtime can really mess with the quality of sleep we are getting.  It may take you longer to fall asleep, causing you to get less sleep than needed, then making you more tired the next day.  

 

Blue Light & Lifestyle

What can we do to help?  Sometimes it is just not feasible to have no screens ever.  You can start by turning off devices close to bedtime.  This can be about 2-3 hours before you are going to go to sleep, giving your body enough time to make enough melatonin to help your body be ready for bed.  If you need to set an alarm to remind you to turn off your devices. 

If this is not an option for you, there are apps you can download on your phone that eliminate the blue light to a point.  The apps will switch the blue lights to red lights which aren’t so destructive to your circadian rhythm. You can also get similar programs to download onto your computer that does the same thing.  If you can’t get one of these apps, you can always adjust your brightness on your phone or computer screen.  Dimming the screen can help a tad though it won’t eliminate the blue light altogether. 

When you have a job where you are on a computer for hours a day you can look into purchasing blue light filtering glasses.  These glasses help filter out the artificial blue light from screens, helping your eyes not get the digital eye strain or the long term damage that staring at a screen could give you. 

Light bulbs can give off blue light as well, so turning off all lights at night and just using a red light lightbulb can also help at night. 

You may have a circadian rhythm that is completely out of whack.  That is ok, you can reset your circadian rhythm by getting more sunlight during the day.   If getting enough sunlight isn’t possible you can always use a light box, which is called phototherapy, which exposes your body to blue light directly.  Doing this thirty minutes every day in the morning can help reset your circadian rhythm. 

 

Takeaway

Blue light is not always bad.  Making sure you expose yourself to it naturally from the sun can help maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.  Make sure you try to limit your use of artificial blue light before bed otherwise it may cause your sleep quality to decline tremendously.  

 

 


you can reset your circadian rhythm by getting more sunlight during the day



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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators.

The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles.

Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.

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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years. Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles. Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.

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