Many people are well aware of the adverse effects of this increased screen time, and that’s all due to blue light. While blue light has been widely discussed in relation to its potential negative effects on sleep, it is important to note that not all blue light is harmful. In fact, some blue light is necessary for maintaining good health. However, excessive or prolonged exposure to blue light, particularly at night, has been linked to disrupted sleep and other negative health effects. In this article, we demystify blue light and reveal the key to blue light balance
What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the colours that make up the visible light spectrum. Among them, blue light is the shortest wavelength with the highest energy levels. Blue light is emitted naturally by the sun, artificial lighting and also by digital devices like smartphones, tablets, television screens, and computers.
What are the effects of blue light?
Exposure to blue light is a normal and necessary part of life. It helps regulate the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, and can boost cognitive function, alertness and improve mood. However, excessive exposure to blue light, especially from screens, can disrupt sleep patterns and potentially contribute to other health problems.
When the sun goes down in the evening, the lack of blue light causes the brain to release the hormone melatonin which helps you fall asleep. In the morning when the sun rises, its blue light causes a drop in melatonin levels making you more alert and boosting your cognitive functions. The trouble with blue light comes in when even at night, you continue to use your devices thus exposing yourself to artificial blue light that disrupts the body clock (circadian rhythm). The body is supposed to be sleeping but since melatonin levels are still low, it remains alert. When you finally retire to bed, you may have difficulty falling asleep. This sets a whole ripple effect of having a fatigued day after waking up or even foul moods.
How Harmful is Blue light ?
The harmful effects of blue light do not stop there. Digital eye strain is a common problem among people who spend too much time in front of a screen. Ever experienced pain in the eyes or splitting headaches after sitting for long working on your Mac? These are telltale signs that you may be suffering from digital eye strain. Other symptoms include redness, soreness, and dryness of the eyes. If digital eye strain goes on for too long, it may develop into macular degeneration. This is a serious condition where the light-sensitive cells in the retina are damaged. The retina has a photoreceptor known as melanopsin which is very sensitive to blue light. If the retina is then exposed to too much blue light, it gets damaged. Once the retina is damaged, then you go permanently blind. The damage is similar to what overexposure to Ultra-Violet rays does to your eyes.
How Can I Protect Myself From Blue Light?
It’s not all doom and gloom - there are some easy, simple ways you can protect your health and wellbeing against the harmful effects of blue light. The easiest of them all is by simply adding an anti blue light screen protector to your devices (or by getting yourself a pair of anti blue light glasses, they do work). These clever products filter out the damaging blue rays, and will help to protect your short-term and long-term health! So whether you’re spending eight hours every day in front of your work laptop, or an hour each evening scrolling through Instagram, you can rest assured knowing your eyes, sleep, skin (and more!) are protected.
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