The blue light emitted by our phones, laptop and touchscreens is chiefly being blamed for causing sleep problems. Here’s why.
- Blue Light Disrupts Sleep-Wake Pattern
Our sleep-wake pattern, or our body’s natural circadian rhythm, is what helps us automatically wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. Our circadian rhythm is designed to coincide with the rising and setting sun.
So, the more blue you see, the more active your body becomes – that’s why the sky is blue in the day, and becomes less blue as the day progresses. Our bodies read the lights accordingly, so that means, during the day, we feel awake and active, and towards the end of the day, we prepare for sleep.
But looking at your electronic devices before bedtime is like artificially lengthening your day.
Your body starts to become more active and you’ll likely find it hard to rest your mind and body after that.
But how does blue light interfere with this natural rhythm?
- Blue Light Interferes with Melatonin Regulation
Well, it’s all about Melatonin.
Melatonin is the hormone that signals the body to prepare for sleep.
Now the circadian rhythm regulates the secretion of this chemical, and the timing of it.
So when the sun rises, melatonin production naturally stops. When it sets, production goes up again, and the body knows to slow down.
That means that looking at your computer screen at night signals to your body to stop producing melatonin.
That’s because your body processes artificial blue light similar to how it processes daylight.
A Harvard study found that blue light was able to suppress melatonin production twice longer than daylight.
- Blue Light Puts Great Strain on Our Eyes
Research shows that blue light ‘scatters’ more compared to other types of light. This means that when you look at your digital devices, your eyes have to focus more because you are looking at ‘unfocused visual noise’.
Such light causes great strain on your eyes because they have to ‘focus and re-focus’ on what is essentially ‘flickering’ light waves.
Now that causes burriness in your vision, which in turn can cause fatigue, eyestrain and even headaches.
Even worse, experts say prolonged exposure to blue light can cause a higher risk of eye-diseases, such as macular degeneration.
The American Macular Degeneration Foundation suggests that blue light seems to speed up ‘macular degeneration more than any other rays in the spectrum’.
Well now, with all that in mind – a few ways to reduce that blue light intake.
Try using light-bulbs with opaque coatings to reduce all light emissions. For your screens, you can use a dimmer. Some also use the fl.ux app for laptops, to e-dim the screens.
But essentially, if you want to get a good night’s sleep, you have to prepare for it – and the foolproof way is to turn off that device!