A healthy diet and proper exercise are important parts of a healthy lifestyle. However, many people have a tendency to overlook another extremely important aspect of our lives that drives nearly all other actions. Sleep is one of the most important pillars when it comes to our health. It gives our body the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate so that we can function properly throughout the day. Our mind is also greatly influenced by sleep. We are able to de-stress and reboot our brain when we sleep.
The good old saying “Sleep on it” is actually really good advice. But there is a major problem with the way we sleep today. Not only do we not get enough sleep, but we also aren’t getting as high of a quality of sleep as we used to in the past. The combination of the two can cause some serious health issue.
Poor sleep has been linked to many conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety, and it has even been discovered to be a serious risk for obesity. So what has changed throughout our history of sleep that has caused it to decline in quality so drastically? The answer is actually quite simple, technology. In the past, we didn’t have all these screens and monitors in front of us.
As it turns out, nearly all of them emit a blue light which can disturb our quality of sleep by making our brains continue functioning as if it was daytime. Our brains natural sleep cycle is severely impacted by blue wavelength light. This light is produced by monitors, TV screens, artificial lighting, cell phones, and handheld devices like tablets or gaming systems. Pretty much everything that has a screen can produce blue wavelength light.
Luckily, there are some rather simple solutions to bypassing blue light and reducing the effects that it has on our brain. Following some of these simple ideas can help you sleep better, sleep for longer, and in turn improve your overall health. Let’s take a look and see how blue light affects our bodies and what we can do to overcome it.
Blue Light is Good During the Day, but Bad at Night.
Here is the deal, our bodies have a built-in internal clock named the circadian clock. This clock regulates the circadian rhythm, which is any biological process that exhibits an endogenous, entrainable oscillation of about 24 hours. Basically, this rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle which is followed by our internal functions. This rhythm is also displayed in plants, animals, fungi, and cyanobacteria.
Many living things follow this cycle. The problem is that this rhythm isn’t always on point and sometimes it can exceed or become shorter than 24 hours. This is precisely why we need hints from our environment to help us set our internal clocks to the right time. These signals can be a variety of different things, but the most important signals are daylight and darkness. Our eyes react to blue light waves and send signals to our brain and our body that it’s time to be productive and awake. Sunlight carries many blue light waves in it. So when we are outside or near windows during the daytime, our eyes are stimulated by the sensors which recognize the blue light and let us know that we need to be alert.
Furthermore, our mood is also improved because of our eyes sensing blue light. There have been many studies done in the past with blue lights and their effect on our brain. Scientists have used blue light to treat depression, anxiety, and to improve performance in office buildings as well as deter sleepiness and fatigue. There’s no doubt about it, blue light keeps us going. Problems occur when we extend the amount of time we should be getting blue light far beyond normal levels and dip into the timeframe reserved for sleep and rest.
The light bulbs we use produce a high amount of blue light as well. Computers monitors are also a huge creator of blue light. Add all of these blue light sources together and you have yourself an anti-sleep potion. Our brains are amazing. They have the ability to produce a hormone in the pineal gland called melatonin. This hormone is responsible for letting our body and the rest of the brain know that it’s time to go to sleep because we are getting tired. Blue light counteracts the productions of melatonin, not completely but significantly. So our body and brain aren’t getting as rapid of a message to go to sleep or that we are tired.
Instead, the tired feeling is drawn out over a longer amount of time until it adds up and finally forces us to go to sleep. The slow production of melatonin can take a very long amount of time before we finally feel tired enough to go to sleep. Eventually, when we do go to sleep, some parts of our body are still confused about being tired or not because of the lack of melatonin, so we end up with low-quality sleep and restlessness.
There are some studies and speculations linking low melatonin production to cancer, depression, anxiety, and various other health problems. Some even say that the blue light which reduces melatonin production is to blame for high obesity levels in America, as well as increased cases of chronic diseases. This does seem to make sense considering that our obesity epidemic did seem to start around the time when personal computers and laptops become a standard occurrence in every household. Cell phones now have huge screens and emit a lot of blue light, and tablets and gaming devices are very common as well.
But all these electronics have become a part of our life. How can we reduce the amount of blue light in our lives without sacrificing the use of our electronic device? Don’t worry; it’s not as hard as you think.
What is the best way to remove blue light at night?
The answer might be simpler than you think. By far the most effective, easiest, and cost efficient way to remove blue light at nights and in the evening is by using amber-colored glasses. These types of glasses have been specifically designed to block all blue light. No blue light means that your brain isn’t getting the signal from your eyes that you need to be awake and stay up. Various researchers have determined that using blue light blocking glasses brings your melatonin level production to the same level as when you are in complete darkness.
If you were to use these glasses in a fully lit room, your melatonin levels would not be hindered at all. Not only do these blue light blocking glasses stop the reduction of melatonin production, but a few case studies show that they are even capable of improving the mood as well. Studies were done with subjects who used the glasses three hours before sleep for two weeks, and the results were fantastic.
Better quality of sleep, better mood, longer sleep, and reduced daytime dysfunction in elderly cataract patients were all benefits of using blue light blocking glasses. Since sleep and the quality of sleep are so deeply linked to our overall health, it seems that using these anti-blue light glasses can produce many long-term benefits, all while ensuring that you are resting properly and your 24-hour clock is set correctly every night.
What are some other ways to block blue light?
If wearing amber colored glasses at night isn’t your cup of tea, there are a few other things you can do to reduce the dosage of blue light that you receive at night in order to improve your quality of sleep. This might seem troublesome, but turning off all lights in the house one to two hours before you go to sleep will help you produce the melatonin you need for quality sleep. The same goes for all electronic equipment that produces light. Things like your laptop or PC, cell phone, and tablets should all be turned off to reduce blue light production. Reading under a regular lamp light can also deter melatonin production.
We suggest getting a red or an orange reading lamp and using it an hour or two before you go to sleep. Again, this will ensure your melatonin levels are at the right amount. Candlelight can also be a great way to produce light without much blue light wave emission. Just make sure that the candle light is bright enough for reading, otherwise, you might degenerate your eye-sight. When you do go to sleep, make sure that your bedroom is completely dark and there is nothing creating blue light. No slightly open doors with light seeping in, no night light or led strips.
All of these can give off blue light, and while you might be able to fall asleep without an issue, they can still disrupt your sleep and decrease its quality. If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, there is wonderful software that you can use to help reduce the blue light which is emitted by your monitor. F.lux is a program which reduces the frequency of the light emitted by your monitor. It can be set for higher frequencies, which produce more blue light, during the day to increase alertness, productivity, and mood.
At the same time, the program can reduce the frequency of light at night, which creates a warmer tone with less blue light. Many people who have used it stated that they were able to fall asleep easier when using the program versus the times they weren’t using it.
Furthermore, the majority of the users said that they experienced far less eye strain when using this software as well. That seems like a win-win situation to me. By the way, the software is completely free, so give it a shot.
Those of you who are attached to your phones and can’t seem to put them down also have the option to get an app which can help with filtering out blue light. For android users, this goes for tablets and phones alike, the best blue light filtering app we found was Twilight. The creators of this app made it in such a way that the screen adapts to the time of the day. Once the sun sets, the application filters out the blue light which is emitted by your phone and produces a red filter which is pleasant and soft.
The reviews for this app have been fantastic and many people said that reading at night has become much easier and sleep quality was improved drastically even if the phone was being used shortly before bedtime. On the flip side, those of you who use the iPhone are slightly limited on options.
However, we did find that iOS 9 and above does have a built in option to reduce blue light during the night and produce an easy on the eyes lighting for you when you use the phone at night. If you navigate to your Settings, then tap on Display & Brightness, you should see an option for what Apple calls Night Shift. This option gives you the capability to set a schedule (we suggest sunset to sunrise) and change the level of color warmth you would prefer (we suggest as close to ‘More Warm’ as you can handle).
Alternatively, you can also “Manually Enable Until Tomorrow”. As you can see, no matter which phone device you have, filtering blue light isn’t hard at all.
Block Blue Light to Sleep Better Review Summary
Blue light is absolutely vital for our daily lives. It keeps us in a good mood while making sure we are fully awake and ready to take on any day. But at night, we should avoid it at all costs. Lack of sleep can lead to a major problem with your health and the quality of sleep can also determine how well you are rested and your ability to function properly the next day.
So grab a pair of amber colored glasses or get those filters going on all of your devices, and put yourself on the right track for better sleep.