Most lighting in our homes, offices, and establishments now use bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LED). They have taken over the artificial lighting industry because they are energy-efficient and much stronger than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. These LEDs are everywhere—even in digital devices like our TVs, laptops, and smartphones. While they’re certainly useful, these lightings contain blue wavelengths—or what we call blue light—that pose potential health hazards and disrupt our sleep.
Understanding Our Body’s Circadian Rhythm
During the day, blue light boosts our energy and mood. After sundown, increased exposure to it has risks. Aside from the effects they have on our eyes, blue light interrupts our standard sleeping patterns.
Our body’s biological clock is affected by how much light or darkness it is exposed to. It creates a pattern, also known as the circadian rhythm, which determines the timing of critical physiological functions. This includes brain activity, cell regeneration, hormone production, and yes—our sleeping patterns.
Put simply, our circadian rhythm works like this: the hypothalamus area in our brain signals sleep once light reaches the retina in our eyes. It triggers our body to produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. This explains why, under an ideal setting and natural lighting, we are awake during the day and asleep during the night.
The Link Between Nighttime Light Exposure to Health Problems
Some studies suggest that exposure to light at night leads to a higher risk of getting diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression, and cardiovascular problems. While there is no definitive proof that nighttime light exposure causes these conditions, it is not difficult to understand why this trend is happening.
Exposure to artificial lighting confuses our body’s natural rhythms. When our eyes process light even at night, our brain doesn’t know when to tell us to sleep. Besides, we all know how important sleep is for cell regeneration and tissue repair.
How Blue Light Suppresses Melatonin Production
Any type of light during the night can alter our body’s production of melatonin, but blue light can be twice as disruptive. Researchers at Harvard conducted an experiment by comparing the effects of blue light to green light within a 6.5-hour exposure. They found that the blue light suppressed melatonin twice as long and changed one’s circadian rhythm twice as much.
How to Get Better Sleep
So much of our waking hours are spent with blue light exposure. We work on our laptops, browse through our phones, and relax by watching TV. To prevent sleep problems, experts advise us to avoid any exposure to blue light at least 30 minutes before going to bed. You can do this by keeping the room dim and turning off your mobile phone once you’re ready to hit the bed.
Additionally, there are products available in the market that filter out blue light. They come in the forms of screen protectors or glasses that you can wear to block these harmful wavelengths. Ocushield offers screen protectors and eyeglasses that effectively block blue light up to 95 per cent. Check out our products and find out how you can reduce eye strain, have better sleep, and improve your overall well-being!