Home Health and Wellness Articles The Blue LED Light is Bad For Your Sleep

The Blue LED Light is Bad For Your Sleep

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This year’s Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine awarded to three scientists for their discovery of molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms has reiterated the importance of sleep in our lives.

Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young who won the award explained how plants, animals and human beings are regulated by chronobiology, or biological clocks, that synchronise bodily rhythms with the Earth’s revolutions. In fact, the biological clock anticipates an organism’s activities through a 24-hour cycle and dispatches hormones accordingly to regulate activities like sleeping, waking and eating – activities that are essential to maintain health.

In principle, the clock is tuned to the rhythm of earth’s day-night cycle that humans got used to throughout evolution. The amount of exposure to light determines the secretion of a hormone called melatonin, which in turn determines our sleep-wake cycle.

Most people around the world accept the norm that the adult body needs eight hours of sleep per day. The National Sleep Foundation in the United States recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 get between seven and nine hours of sleep per day.

However, due to changing lifestyle and daily stresses, humans are sleeping much less than they did in the past and unfortunately the quality of our sleep has suffered as well.

It turns out that perhaps the single biggest contributor to our collective sleep problems, is the use of artificial lighting and electronics at night.

These devices emit light of a blue wavelength, which tricks our brains into thinking that it is daytime. Numerous studies suggest that blue light in the evening disrupts the brain’s natural sleep-wake cycles, which are crucial for optimal function of the body.

Why the Blue LED Light is Bad For Your Sleep?

Although the biological clock determines when our bodies are primed to stay awake and be productive, and when we feel tired and want to go to sleep it isn’t 100{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed} accurate. Sometimes it is a bit longer than 24 hours, sometimes a bit shorter.

For this reason, it needs signals from the external environment in order to adjust itself. The most important signals that adjust this internal clock are daylight and darkness.

But not all light is equal, it is primarily light of a blue wavelength (blue light) that stimulates sensors in the eye to send signals to the brain’s internal clock. Getting blue light (especially from the sun) in the daytime is very important. It helps us to stay alert, while improving performance and mood.

 

But even though blue light is incredibly beneficial during the day, it can be a complete disaster if we are exposed to it in the evening.

The problem is that modern light bulbs and electronic devices (especially computer monitors), also produce large amounts of blue light and “trick” our brains into thinking that it is daytime.

When it gets dark in the evening, a part of the brain called the pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin, which signals to our bodies and brains that it is time to get tired and go to sleep.

Blue light, whether from the sun or a laptop, is very effective at inhibiting melatonin production.

This means that our bodies don’t get the proper signal that it’s time to go to sleep, reducing both the quantity and quality of our sleep.

Indoor lighting and electronic devices are a major part of the modern lifestyle and they aren’t going away anytime soon.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to block blue light from entering your eyes and disrupting the natural sleep-wake cycle.

Ways to Block Blue Light

One way to reduce blue light exposure at night is to install apps and programs on your mobile or computer that are specifically made for this purpose.

These programs automatically adjust the color and brightness of your screen based on your timezone. When it is dark outside, the program effectively blocks all blue light from your computer and gives the screen a faint orange color.

There are a few other things you may want to consider:

  • Turn off all lights in your home 1–2 hours before bedtime.
  • Get a red or orange reading lamp, which doesn’t emit blue light. Candlelight works well too.
  • Keep your bedroom completely dark (highly recommended), or use a sleep mask.

It is also important to expose yourself to plenty of blue light during the day. Go outside during the day and get some natural sunlight.

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