Can blue light affect our sleep?
The short answer to this is ‘yes’. The modern world and its technology is full of man-made blue light, from our energy saving light bulbs to our TVs, computers and smart phones. We are being bombarded with blue light, from when we wake up in the morning until we go to sleep, and this is seriously affecting our circadian rhythms and therefore our sleep.
What is Blue Light?
Natural blue light is everywhere and, before the advent of electricity and gas, it was our only source of blue light. It’s this blue light, from the sun’s rays, that controls our circadian rhythm and so our sleep. It regulates our production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, ensuring that we don’t produce it during daylight hours.
Our evening activities, such as watching TV, sitting on our laptops and phones, exposes us to artificial blue light and so upsets our circadian rhythm, disrupting our sleep patterns and seriously upsetting our internal body clock.
Children and the Elderly
Children are especially susceptible to the effects of blue light as their pupils are larger than an adult’s, and a child’s eye lens isn’t as efficient when it comes to filtering UV and HEV light. This means that blue light penetrates deeper into the eye during childhood. Parents who set a cut off time in the evening for TV and electronics, will find their children sleep a lot better.
As we age, so the density of our eye lens changes, allowing blue light to penetrate the lens. We generally produce less melatonin as we age, so that fact, combined with more blue light absorption, is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
There are ways to overcome this serious problem: -
- Turn off the TV and electronics at least two hours before bedtime.
- Dim the background light on your laptop or tablet or get blue light filter app.
- Invest in a pair of filtering glasses.