The Dark Side of Blue Light
July 30, 2021
If you are like most people today, your mobile phone is always in your hand. But artificial light, or blue light, at bedtime can disrupt your sleep. Let’s learn more about blue light and how and when to use it.
What is Blue Light?
As simple as it may sound, blue light is just that, light. The most significant source of blue light is sunlight, and in regular doses, it’s healthy to be around. Blue light boosts alertness, elevates mood, and regulates the body’s circadian rhythm. Blue light also emits from fluorescent light bulbs, LED Televisions, smartphones, and tablets. It’s when we use these kinds of electronics at night that blue light starts to become a problem.
Why is Blue Light Bad?
As we said, blue light isn’t bad when you’re exposed to it during the day. But at night, it can adversely affect your sleep and your health. Each color on the visible spectrum of light has different wavelengths and energies. Blue light—which has a short wavelength and high energy—can trick your body into thinking it’s still daylight.
Usually, when a person is ready to go to bed, their brain will start expressing a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin tells your body it’s time to get drowsy. If you’re using a blue light before bed, you won’t create melatonin and won’t be able to fall asleep as easily.
Blue light can physically contribute to eye problems as well. Long-term exposure to blue light has been shown to cause cataracts, eye cancers, eye strain, and more.
How to Protect Yourself
If you’re not ready to give up your pre-sleep scrolling or late-night shows, we totally understand. But there are some things you can do to reduce the impact of blue light on your sleep and eyes.
- Many of your favorite devices already have blue-light filters installed in their settings. Take a minute to find them and turn them on. Or, if your device doesn’t have a blue light setting, you can buy a filter that blocks the blue light from reaching your eyes.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule to reduce digital eye strain. Take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.
- Control lighting and glare on the device screen, set up a good working distance, and posture for screen viewing.
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
- Talk with your eye doctor about blue light protection and blue light blocking glasses at your next examination.
According to the Vision Council, 80% of American adults use digital devices more than two hours per day. No matter how you feel about them, our nation’s love affair with screens isn’t going away. And while our devices can be literal lifesavers, they can also open the door for all kinds of problems. Luckily, blue light at night is an easy fix. Use some of the tips here and share the info with your family so you’ll all be able to sleep with ease.