If you are like most people on the planet, you enjoy unwinding after a long day at work watching your favorite TV programs, playing games online or reading a good book on your tablet. Although all of these pastimes sound fairly wholesome, you may be surprised that our almost-obsession with electronics is causing an epidemic of health issues.
I'm talking about being surrounded by blue light after dark. That doesn't sound very scary, I know. But scientists have shown that the blue light that radiates from electric lights and electronic devices, when used at night, negatively impacts our circadian cycle.
Our circadian cycle is the internal clock that regulates our cycles of productivity, wakefulness, and sleep. Blue light after dark tricks our bodies into believing it's still day and time for us to be alert and active. If you find you are having trouble sleeping or you don't feel rested upon waking, this just may be the problem.
But, it goes way beyond that. Blue light also inhibits the body's natural process of producing melatonin, which influences the circadian cycle, regulates sleep, and many other things, as scientists are now aware.
Harmful Health Effects of Blue Light at Night
Scientists now have evidence proving that exposure to blue light at night, and the sleep disruption it causes, plays a role in some of the most serious health risks of our times:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Cardiovascular problems
- High blood pressure
- Cancer (specifically, breast and prostate)
- Heart disease
Of course, our dependence on electrics cannot totally be blamed, since the average electric light we switch on at dusk started us down this road. But, scientists now believe that our consistent use of electronics well into the night is a factor in not only our society's lack of quality sleep but also in many of the chronic diseases that are common killers in our day and age.
Solutions to Harmful Blue Lights
We would be naive to believe that upon learning this news we would all start “going Amish,” hitting the hay when the sun goes down and getting up with the rooster. I think we are too far gone for that. I know I am. I get a good deal of work done after my kids are in bed at night. I simply couldn't get everything I need to do for my business completed during the day while homeschooling and caring for my kids. But, there are ways to limit our exposure to blue lights at night, and therefore, lower our risk of their harmful health effects.
- Read a book by candle light or use a lamp with an orange bulb -sounds nice and cozy, doesn't it? When's the last time you held a real book in your hand? 🙂
- Use an app like f.lux that works on your time zone to drastically reduce the amount of blue light emitted from your computer and tablet screens.
- Limit the amount of time in front of electronics after dark, if possible.
- Dim overhead lights a couple hours before bedtime and use lamps with orange light bulbs, which emit no blue light at all.
While these are all great suggestions, I decided to try wearing orange glasses for several hours before bedtime. I can't believe the difference in my sleep! As I said, avoiding my computer screen after dark isn't an option for me, and after wearing these orange glasses every night for a couple of years now, I can tell you that my sleep has improved. I fall asleep faster and I feel more rested in the morning. I have also noticed a marked improvement in my mood and my ability to focus during the day. I use this brand and I highly recommend them!
One final point, blue light is important for our health in many ways, but just during the day. Our sun provides a great deal of blue light, but it works with our circadian cycle because it's shining on us during the time we do need to be alert and productive. So, make sure to get plenty of natural sunlight during the day to regulate your melatonin and snag some vitamin D but avoid blue light after the sun goes down.
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