As screens, screens, and more screens have become common in the morning, during the work day, and then as a source of relaxation in the evening, our world is lit up from start to finish. But, we still expect to get a full night’s rest, and when restless evenings become the norm, we wonder – what gives? Well, let’s talk about a healthy light diet.
Light, Blue Light and our Circadian Rhythm.
We all do our best to be healthy. We eat the right foods, drink lots of water, get in some exercise a few times a week, but what about lighting? It doesn’t seem like a healthy “light diet” would be something to consider, but based on The Sleep Doctor, it should.
Light is essentially inescapable today; it can be as light as we would like it 24 hours a day, and we have to be intentional about making it dark. Staring at light right up till you decide to fall asleep can have serious effects on your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural clock. Not only that, the blue light that’s often emitted from our TVs, computer screens, and devices make a more significant impact. Michael J. Breus. PhD, aka The Sleep Doctor, explains that many scientific studies have pinpointed blue light as a form of light that’s especially aggressive in triggering sleeplessness.
It suppresses melatonin production for twice as long as other light wavelengths and alters circadian rhythms by twice the degree. When your circadian rhythm is out of well, rhythm, you think, feel, and perform below your best. Breus also says that researchers have found blue light to prevent body temperature from dropping during the night – one key element to the body’s natural progression into sleep.
What does this have to do with LEDs?
LEDs tend to give out bluer wavelength light than incandescent or halogen. While any kind of bright light after hours will affect our bodies abilities to naturally begin the sleep process, cool toned LEDs are more likely to mess with our sleep cycle, resulting in difficult, restless evenings.
Don’t worry, all is not lost. There are a few things you can do around your house to help reduce the effects of light, blue light or otherwise.
- First and foremost, take a break from the screens at least one hour before you go to bed and if your lights are dimmable, turn them way down. Relax, read a book, even watching TV from afar is better than remaining up close and personal with a screen.
- Utilize an app on your phone or computer that will help minimize the effects of blue light in the evening. For example, Flux is a free software that adjusts the light of your computer to match the cycle of natural light where you live and adjusts the light in the evenings to reduce brightness and blue light. There are also a number of blue light blocking eyeglasses on the market today that help reduce blue light exposure as well.
- From a LED manufacturer’s perspective, choose LED bulbs in a warmer color temperature. A warmer light (as opposed to a cooler, whiter light) will produce fewer blue wavelengths and help you fall asleep. Look for bulbs with between a 2,400 and 3,000 Kelvin color temperature.
A healthy light diet is important, and we at EarthTronics want to make sure that everyone (us included!) maintains a healthy sleep and light schedule. That means purchasing bulbs with dimming capabilities, looking for warmer LED bulb options, installing blue light blocking software, and committing to powering down your devices in the evenings. Your body will thank you!