Blue light exposure from various devices can disrupt sleep patterns and affect your health. Discover how you can reduce the effects for better sleep and health
With today’s technology, blue light exposure to electronic devices has increased as a result.
This unnatural blue light we face can disrupt and impact our sleep quality and cause other health issues.
Getting proper sleep is vital for our well-being in many ways.
So let’s learn the effects of blue light on sleep and provide 11 Top practical tips to adjust or reduce its impact.
Understanding Blue Light
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum. It has one of the shortest wavelengths but also the highest energy emitted.
Natural Sunlight provides the biggest source of blue light.
The natural light received helps to regulate the wake and sleep cycles.
Artificial sources can also emit blue light which includes the following:
Fluorescent light, LED TVs, computer monitors, smartphones, and tablet screens.
Unlike natural light, where there is a balance of different colors of the light spectrum.
Blue light emitted from devices creates a higher concentration of one form of light only.
This can create other problems outside of our sleep patterns.
Health issues can result such as our eyes, brain, and cognitive function.
Some may be short-term others long-term that can be dangerous if not addressed early.
How Blue Light Exposure Disrupts Sleep
Over-exposure to unnatural blue light can interfere with our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
It suppresses the production of melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone the body produces to help regulate our sleep.
Melatonin is nature’s way of helping us wind down and prepare for bed. The body starts releasing it a couple of hours before bedtime.
In the evenings, unnatural blue light can fool the brain into thinking it’s daytime.
This results in the body to stop releasing melatonin.
Think of it this way:
Darkness helps trigger the release of melatonin; blue light delays it.
Blue Light Impact on Sleep Quality
Research has shown, overexposure to blue light can decrease the amount of deep sleep we get.
Sleep is crucial for our body’s restoration and rejuvenation.
It may also take longer for us to fall asleep, leading to restless nights and poor sleep quality.
Health Consequences of Poor Sleep
Poor sleep quality can have various negative effects on our health and well-being.
Lack of quality sleep due to excessive blue light may cause the following:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty in concentration
- Impaired cognitive function including affecting the brain.
- Mood swings.
- Increased stress levels
- Weakened immune system.
- Chronic sleep disruption.
Chronic sleep disruption can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
11 Top Tips for Reducing Blue Light Exposure
Below are some top tips we can take to reduce the adverse effects of blue light on our sleep quality:
Limit screen time before bed:
Avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before sleep.
Use “night or dark mode” settings:
Many devices offer a “night mode” or “blue light filter” option that reduces the emission of blue light.
Wear blue light-blocking glasses:
Blocking glasses can help to filter out most of the blue light. This can help maintain your body’s natural melatonin production.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine:
Engage in other forms outside of using electronic devices.
Meditation or practicing some other forms of relaxation techniques can help.
This could also include slow deep breathing that can help you unwind and relax more. This helps to prepare your body and mind for sleep.
Use sleep masks:
Sleep masks are a very effective way to block out light. This is great for night-shift workers wanting to sleep during the day.
For those who sleep at night, sleep masks help create a dark and conducive atmosphere. This helps to provide quality sleep.
Dim the lights:
Before bedtime, dim the lights in your living space to create a relaxing environment.
Lowering light levels signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
Install blue light-filtering apps or software:
Having blue light-filtering apps or software on your electronic devices. This helps to reduce the amount of blue light emitted during evening hours.
Opt for warm-toned lighting:
Swap out bright, cool-toned light bulbs with warm-toned ones in your bedroom.
Warm light has less of an impact on melatonin production. They can also help create a soothing atmosphere for sleep.
Invest in blue light-blocking curtains or blinds:
Consider using dark curtains or blinds in your bedroom designed to filter out blue light.
Dark curtins for example can help to reduce or block external sources of blue light.
These could be streetlights, car lights, or outdoor signs.
Engage in relaxing activities:
Focus on other activities that help promote relaxation before bedtime.
This could be as simple as reading a book.
Take a warm bath.
Practicing gentle stretching or yoga.
Even listening to calming music.
These activities help to shift your focus away from screens.
At the same time creates a conducive environment for sleep.
Establish a digital curfew:
Set a specific time at least an hour before bed when you disconnect from electronic devices.
Doing so helps to give signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
Introducing these methods and ideas can help gain a night of better sleep.
As everyone has their own different lifestyle you can use some or all methods above.
Test them out and work out what is best for you.
Test them out and work out what is best for you.
Benefits and Risks of Blue Light
Like most things blue light can be beneficial in moderation, the blue light that your body gets from natural sunlight can be beneficial to your body and your brain.
However, overexposure to blue light can also disrupt your sleep, cause eye strain, and permanent damage to your vision.
- Elevates mood
- Increased alertness
- Aids cognitive function
- Regulation of circadian rhythm
- Essential for the sleep cycle
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Suppresses melatonin (sleep hormone) production
- Reduced Deep sleep
- Negative impact on health:
- Daytime fatigue
- Decreased cognitive function
- Mood disturbances.
The Benefits and Risks of Blue Light and Sleep Quality Explained
Benefits: From Natural Blue Light
Improves our mood.
Natural blue light during the day helps to improve our mood due to the proper sleep received. It is recommended to get at least 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
On a side note, those who work nightshift will be best to do the opposite and have darkness during the day as much as possible.
This helps you sleep better without experiencing the issues evening sleepers would have. Pretty much the reverse.
As we start to gain proper sleep, there is increased alertness throughout the day as natural sunlight provides us with a balance of blue light and other colors of the spectrum.
When driving you will find your performance in driving ability is improved due to being more alert this also flows in with the next one in cognitive function.
Aids cognitive function
When exposed to natural sunlight there is an increase in work performance, attitudes, and abilities to work better.
Regulation of circadian rhythm
Natural Blue light exposure in the morning helps regulate our body’s internal clock.
We are better able to function during the day with greater ease and able to relax towards the evening and when it’s time to rest and sleep we feel more relaxed and sleep well.
Essential for proper sleep cycle
Setting a regular time to sleep and wake up makes it easier to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
This also includes the weekends.
Risks: From Artificial Blue Light
Disrupted sleep patterns:
Excessive blue light exposure, towards the late evening, can disrupt our sleep patterns.
This makes it harder to fall asleep and impacts the quality of our sleep.
Delayed melatonin production:
Blue light inhibits the production of melatonin.
As a result, this can cause restless sleep and constant waking up during the night.
Lack of sleep can be dangerous, especially if you are driving.
Your tiredness also affects your concentration.
be affected including driving.
Reduced deep sleep:
Blue light exposure can decrease the amount of deep sleep we get. Having various levels of sleep is important.
Having deep sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, physical restoration, and well-being.
Negative impact on health:
Sleep quality due to blue light exposure can contribute to many other health issues.
Increased risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Not getting the right amount of undisturbed sleep can easily lead to daytime fatigue which can bring further issues such as tiredness at work or study that can lead to poor performance.
We mentioned above the alertness in driving performance, however with fatigue when driving dangerous situations can arise.
I am sure you are aware of the issue of falling asleep at the wheel due to fatigue and lack of proper sleep.
Decreased cognitive function.
Overuse of the many forms of electronic devices at night increases the amount of unnatural blue light emitted.
This not only affects your melatonin to pause at night when it should be working. Over time your cognitive functions start to be affected.
To the point where your work or study slows you down which can lead to poor performance, this also includes those involved in sport.
Along with poor sleep come other side issues many face. including having mood issues and easy disturbances in the way you think, feel, and act.
Many times it may seem for no reason at all which can easily be the result of various sleep disorders due to overuse of artificial Blue Light at night.
It’s important to note that not all aspects of blue light are negative.
The pros mentioned above result from striking a balance between day and evening.
Natural blue light during the day and moderating exposure towards the evening.
Implementing the methods above helps to optimize your sleep health.
Now you can understand why and how the effects of blue light exposure on sleep quality are important.
Along with how to find ways to maintain healthy sleep patterns.
Sleep is vital for our health what we can do to improve our sleep can improve our health in many ways. This will help give us a better quality of life all around.
If you have any questions or have faced such issues please leave a comment below.