We know that blue light can impair our ability to get to sleep and stay asleep at night; we know that it makes us feel almost as if it’s day, which confuses our circadian rhythm. But how alert does blue light really make us? Enough to keep us alert when we actually want to be alert? Indications to that effect would have serious implications to how significant we consider blue light effects, and on possibly useful consequences of blue light.
More often than not, we’re searching for techniques and supplements to help us stay awake and alert. Situations range from students studying for a test during peak stress time, to the life-endangering sleepiness one sometimes gets driving late at night.
Traditionally, we have coffee and tea. Ginseng and other herbal supplements are also popular. Some go so far as to try alternatives which may not sound all that appetising – like BulletProof Coffee, a delicious blend of coffee, butter, and MCT oil.
Yet these substances rely on charging your body to counter fatigue, especially when used at night. None of them change the entire context of the fatigue, as blue light might.
Fortunately, studies have been done to test the hypothesis that blue light works better than caffeine.
Blue Light Brigade
Research done in 2012 suggests that blue light technology in cars actually improves driving
performance. Coffee, however, did lead to slightly higher performance. But the results are
significant when compared to drivers given placebos. Blue light significantly improves
driving performance at night.
With a 2007 study previously suggesting that the alertness from blue light can improve cognitive performance, we begin to understand how truly astounding effects of blue light can be.
It’s worthwhile, then, to remember that the majority of working people spend most of the day staring at sources of blue light. And many of us take that blue light home, and even to bed, with us. It’s no surprise then that, with so much blue light input, we need to be mindful of how much it plays with our body’s nighttime functioning.
While increased alertness may appeal to us at times, it’s the last thing you want when trying to get a good night’s rest. The effects of a restless or sleepless night will likely counter any positive effects of blue light. It is for good reason then that blue light filters are recommended for any device you’ll use before bed, or take with you to bed.
Alert driving is important, but unless you plan on driving in your dreams (which you’ll probably suck at anyway), the benefit becomes moot at a certain hour. And we all want to do well in tests, but being alert at three in the morning is certainly not the way to go about it.