Is Blue Light Keeping You Awake at Night?


Couple Watching TV in Bed

Some readers may be old enough to remember when most evenings were spent in relatively low light. Kerosene lanterns, candles, logs on the fire or the warm glow of an incandescent bulb was how much of the world was illuminated at night. Now with the advent of many forms of artificial lighting, we take nighttime light for granted and lamps, logs and candles are most often associated with ambience. But, did we really take a step backward with all of the fancy lumens being emitted from electronically-controlled light sources?

According to a study conducted at Harvard Medical School, the light that comes from your electronic devices (including TVs and smartphones) and energy-efficient florescent light bulbs are forms of blue light (or light from the blue spectrum). Researchers theorized that sources of blue light could have a negative effect on your internal clock and may throw the body's biological clock — circadian rhythm — out of sync.

Some things you can do to help ensure your circadian clock is less affected by sources of blue light include:

  • Use dim red lights for night lights
  • Reduce time spent looking at bright computer or TV screens
  • Avoid blue light for at least two to three hours before bed
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day
  • Consider wearing blue-blocking glasses

Being more energy efficient while leaving a smaller footprint is certainly preferred, but the quality of sleep you receive is an important factor in managing weight and maintaining one's overall health.

The results of the study concluded that blue light suppressed melatonin (a natural hormone that helps to control sleep and awake cycles) for about twice as long as exposure to a green light. An adverse situation that shifted the circadian rhythms in the study's participants by twice as much. In addition, those who were exposed to blue light had higher blood sugar levels which caused their bodies to enter a pre-diabetic state with reduced levels of leptin. Leptin is a hormone that helps you feel full after eating. So, managing the blue light in your life can both benefit sleep and help you lose weight.

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