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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Blue Light and Sleep

Posted by Dr. Danny P. Malone on Jul 11, 2019 8:30:00 AM

Blue light is catching a fair bit of notice. As just one example, a Google search will bring up all sorts of information among its 150 million results. Let me distill some of that with a particular focus on blue light and its impact on sleep.

What is Blue Light?

man checking email on phoneBlue light is the highest energy light we can see. It falls on the light spectrum just below ultra-violet (UV) light, which is invisible but has even higher energy. 

Sunlight is the main source of blue light, but our televisions, computers, tablets, and phone screens generate significant amounts of blue light. In addition, fluorescent and LED lights also emit blue light.

Blue Light Impact

Blue light, typically from the sun, activates our cognitive functions, heightens our awareness, and boosts our energy level. The daylight tells us to get to work, as it has since the beginning of mankind. 

In fact, blue light is used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But is can also disrupt your normal sleep patterns as too much blue light at night can potentially cause sleepless nights.

How Blue Light Affects Sleep

Since blue light activates our cognitive functions, when the sun goes down we’re ready for sleep. Unless, of course, we’re staring into a source of blue light—phones, tablets, computers, or any screen.  

Here are five key things to keep in mind regarding blue light and sleep:

  1. Circadian Rhythm. This is our body's clock that regulates our sleep cycles over a 24-hour day. It can be disrupted by time zone changes, jet lag, or late night blue light.
  2. Pineal Gland. This tiny little organ in the brain releases the hormone melatonin a few hours before your regular bedtime. Blue light can disrupt this release.
  3. Melatonin. This hormone regulates sleep and wakefulness. As it increases, you get sleepy. As it decreases, it signals that it’s time to get up.
  4. Glasses. There are glasses that block blue light. These can be worn at night when you’re nearing bedtime or they can be worn anytime you’re exposed to artificial light. There are low cost sunglasses with blue light blocking and you can purchase prescription lenses as well. There are a wide variety of options including glasses to wear just for viewing computer screens, special coated lenses including clear coatings, and lenses designed specifically to reduce blue light using blue tech technology.
  5. Filters. There are mobile apps that can be added to phones and tablets that automatically filter the blue light on the screen at night. You can also use a blue light filter that can be attached to the screens of computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Of course, another way to reduce blue light at night is to turn off your screens a few hours before bedtime. It also helps to reduce the overall room lighting, which is also be a source of blue light. 

The Effects of Sleep Disruption

Another thing you may not be aware of is that once your sleep is disrupted, things quickly go downhill from there. Loss of sleep impacts your mental sharpness and increases your appetite. Once you start eating more than you need, your weight increases which, in turn, can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of diabetes. There’s all that and it can bring on moodiness and depression. On my goodness, better get some sleep.

Take Care of Your Vision

If you’re looking for blue light blocking glasses, we can help. Use our contact form or call us at 972-612-2099.

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions. 

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Topics: blue light, bluetech