Have you noticed that after watching TV in the evening or browsing on your laptop or phone before bed you struggle to drift off to sleep? This maybe due to the blue light emitted from these, and many more devices, which can have a significant impact on your ability to get to sleep in the evening.
What Is Blue Light?
Light in itself is a form of electromagnetic radiation, which is a type of energy that is invisible. When your eyes interpret these wavelengths, they do so based on the amount of energy that they contain. For instance, a rainbow has that sort of energy radiation that shows you the full spectrum of light. Even the sun shows you that entire color spectrum, even if the light type itself is defined as “white light.”
Blue light is just one portion of that light, and it has a
direct effect on how alert you feel. It is why you feel so energetic in the
morning because your biological clock reacts to the natural blue light provided
by the sun.
This blue light wavelength is also produced by LED light bulbs in your table lamps, downlights, and pendant lights, as well as most of your electronic devices. These blue light wavelengths affect your hormone production, making you feel awake when you shouldn’t – therefore affecting your sleep cycle.
Effect of Blue Light on Sleep
Light of any type can prevent melatonin secretion – the exact hormone that tells you it is time to sleep. Blue light at night from artificial sources tends to be more powerful. Think about how you become alert when someone turns on a light in your room, or when the TV is running as you are trying to go to sleep.
Human eyes are not very good at stopping blue light from passing through. Even if you keep your eyes closed, it still manages to make its way through the eyelid and all the way towards your retina. The retina, in return, will help your brain translate all the light that it gets into images. By seeing these images, your brain is tricked into thinking that it is still day, disrupting your circadian rhythm and making you feel more alert.
The more you expose yourself to blue light, whether it’s natural or artificial, the less sleepy you will feel once night falls and you’ll have to get back to sleep. Even if you do fall asleep, it may take a longer time, or you may end up waking frequently throughout the night. This is because your retina is still processing the blue light that has recently been absorbed.
Sources of Artificial Blue Light
An average of 95% of the people admit to using some kind of electronic device within an hour of their bedtime. Some are for leisure, whereas others are for work purposes. And since we live in an era when everyone has electricity, it can be very difficult to avoid these sleepless situations.
The light from devices such as light bulbs, tablets, computers, and smartphones will look white to the regular eye. However, these devices can give off up to 490-nanometer wavelengths – in essence, this is still blue light. Red and orange light is recommended in these circumstances, as it mimics the soft light provided by candles.
Studies show that for a good night’s sleep, you should refrain from using your electronic devices for at least 3 hours before going to sleep. This should help trigger your body into releasing melatonin, which can prepare you for a restful sleep. Reducing screen time throughout the day will also help rebalance your Circadian rhythm, as your retina is no longer absorbing as much blue light.
The Bottom Line
Protecting yourself from blue light will also help you to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep for longer. Luckily, there are various strategies and products available to purchase which will reduce your exposure to blue light.