There is a proverb that says that the eyes are the window to the soul, but the eyes are likewise the gateway to our sleep.
Studies show that getting limited hours of sleep is linked to a plethora of health problems, including diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Inadequate sleep has also been found to correlate with an increased risk of depression. Studies have also found that short sleep is linked to blue light exposure after dusk.
Blue and green light (the shorter end of the light spectrum) is good for people during the day because it helps keep people alert and enthused and improves the secretion of our hormones. However, the same light can be detrimental at the end of the day. Blue light affects the secretion of melatonin significantly more than any other kind of light. Exposure to blue light can suppress melatonin secretion for as long as three hours for 6.5 hours of exposure, compared to 1.5 hours suppression of the same length of exposure to green light. Insufficient melatonin makes it difficult for one to fall asleep. While there are supplements available, the studies on the oral intake of melatonin are conflicting at best.
There are doable ways to help lessen one’s exposure to blue light before sleeping.
1. Dim the lights. Avoid using bright LED lights in the bedroom. As little as 8 lux is enough to affect sleep, so if possible, get the red spectrum lights for the bedroom.
2. Have a gadget curfew. The use of gadgets, as well as watching TV, influences sleep as early as two hours before bedtime. If possible, avoid using devices starting a pre-set time after sundown. If you must work during the night, an app that switches screen lights to lessen blue light emission is worth the cost.
3. Invest in a blue-light filter. There are filter glasses and goggles, and transparent screens that you can attach to your monitors. If you absolutely have no choice but to work on screen after dark, you can protect yourself by using these physical filters.
4. Early morning sunbath. You do not need to wear a swimsuit, but get your early morning dose of Vitamin D. While you are pumping up your immune system, your body’s ability to sleep at night is simultaneously boosted. It’s a win-win.
In 2018, the Journal of Psychiatric Research published a study on battling insomnia by blocking blue light. The researchers, led by Ari Shechter, provided amber and placebo lenses to subjects with insomnia symptoms before sleep for seven consecutive nights. Subjects that wore amber lenses for 2-h preceding bedtime for one week experienced improved quality and length of sleep.
Improving your sleep hygiene is the key to better health, and a big part of that is our exposure to light. Filtering out the blue at night will help us avoid the blues (and other health problems) further down the line. For other ways to improve your sleep, check out the BayShop blog, or come in for a visit to our Sleep Studio.
Be Rest Assured