How Light Affects Your Sleep (or Lack Thereof)
April 30 | By LED National
As technology evolves, we are increasingly exposed to light that doesn’t simulate the time of day or night our biology expects. A few examples include smart phone screens, computer screens, television screens, workplaces and retail spaces. Many of these involve blue light. Blue light messes up our biological sleep clock (i.e. our circadian rhythm) which tells us when to sleep and when to be awake. For night-shift workers, the blue-light struggle is real.
What is blue light?
Blue light is a spectrum of light color that simulates day light, which is great when we want to boost attention and reaction times. However, according to Harvard Health Publishing (Blue Light has a Dark Side), exposure to blue light suppresses our production of melatonin which helps influence our sleep cycles (i.e. circadian rhythm) and this effect is worse when we are exposed to blue light at night. The image below is useful in understanding blue light and how it is associated with day light. Basically, the higher the color temperature of light, the more of the blue spectrum it contains. For more about light color, see my blog What is Light Color? But, the below should give you a good idea.
What can we do to help fight the effects of blue light and maybe sleep better?
- Expose yourself to lots of blue (bright) light during the day. This will help you sleep better at night and make you more alert. Assuming you don’t suffer from a medical condition requiring dim lighting, sitting in a room with the shades drawn and lights dimmed during the day is not doing you any favors when it comes to your level of alertness or your sleep.
- If your smartphone has a night-time setting, turn it on which will shift your screen away from a blue color spectrum.
- If you can, try to avoid looking at bright screens for 2-3 hours before dark. For me, it is almost impossible to not look at my smart phone or TV for 2-3 hours before sleep, but if you have the willpower, give it a try!
- If you are a night-shift worker in an environment that has a lot of blue light such as hospitals, manufacturing or industrial facilities, try wearing blue-blocker glasses that help filter out the blue spectrum. There are promising studies showing these glasses help with the reduction in melatonin production that is associated with blue light environments.
- Keep lights in your bedroom at a spectrum that has less blue light, such as 3000 kelvins.
If you would like to know more about reducing the impact of blue-light in the work environment, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.