Blue Light and You

Too much blue light in your home, especially at night can disturb your normal sleep cycle. That may be the cause of why many individuals who stay on their computer at night cannot sleep. Your computer monitor, smartphones, and computer tablets put off a lot of blue light.

Facts about Light

The spectrum of light is made up of many different wavelengths. Blue light and red light are at opposite ends of the spectrum. There is an inverse relationship between the length of the wavelength and the energy it contains. Red light has longer wavelengths and less energy than blue light.

Enough science. The final answer is that light plays an important part in our lives. That includes all light waves on the spectrum, both visible and invisible to the naked eye.

Too much blue or too much red light will disrupt the natural rhythms of our bodies. If you only have an abundance of one color and little of the other color, you may not be able to sleep well. We require both wavelengths of color for our health.

Too much blue light may also increase the risk of macular degeneration. That is because too much can damage the light-sensitive cells in our retina. Blue light is on the light spectrum just before UV light. Your cornea is not very good at blocking this wavelength of light.

What is Blue Light

There are few among us who have not held a prism up to a sunbeam and marveled at the colors of the rainbow. We know that just by looking around us with our naked eye we are unable to break the sunlight into its beautiful colors. But we know they are there.

Our sun emits red, orange, (yellow) yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet light. We see all the visible colors together of sunlight as white light. When we see a rainbow, we see the colors of the sun broken into their respective colors. These are the colors that our eyes can see.

In addition to the sun, electronic screen devices, as well as light bulbs also emit blue light. Blue light boosts alertness and helps our memory and cognitive functions. It is important to get some sunlight every day. However, the light the sun gives off is much better for us than other types of light.

“In its natural form, your body uses blue light from the sun to regulate your natural sleep and wake cycles. This is known as your rhythm. Blue light also helps boost alertness, heighten reaction times, elevate moods, and increase your feelings of well being.”

Blue light suppresses melatonin production. Per the Sleep Doctor “Scientific studies have pinpointed blue light as a form of light that’s especially aggressive in triggering sleeplessness.”

red and blue colors

Red and Blue Light and Your Health

Red light is also important to our bodies. “While collagen is beneficial to the entire body, it’s most noticeably beneficial to the skin. Red light therapy restores healthy cellular function, it increases the production of collagen, which in turn can smooth wrinkles and enhance tone.” Red light boosts our alertness and elevates our mood.

Blue light exposure you receive from computer and television screens is relatively small compared to the amount of exposure from the sun. Yet there are health concerns over getting too much of it. Some scientists purport that it is especially bad for children’s eyes when they get too much light from artificial sources or from the sun. However, light from computer screens appears to be very harmful as it is usually close to our eyes.

Too much blue light will reduce your body’s production of melatonin. Therefore, you should reduce the amount of blue light in your home, especially in the evenings.  After all, this is when you should be winding down and beginning your sleep cycle. Melatonin will of course help in this area. By adding a few red lights with the correct wavelength, the effect of so much blue light is neutralized.

Retina damage: Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.

The jury is still out on the amount of light, blue as well as other wavelengths of light, that is not good for our eyes. Until it is more concrete, we should all be aware of the amount of light our eyes absorb.

blue light bulbs

Some Blue Light Can Be Avoided

You can avoid some but not all blue light. Put electrical tape over any led lights in your bedroom that you can not turn off. Try light-blocking drapes for your bedroom windows. Everything you do to control the amount of blue light in the evenings will benefit your health and your sleep patterns.

HINT: When you purchase lights, be sure to look at the packaging. All packaging for new CFL and LED light bulbs provides color temperature information. Use low color temperature light sources for interior as well as exterior lighting. This light is less harsh and harmful to human health and the environment. 

Look for warm white sources with a color temperature of 3000k or lower. A higher Kelvin number puts off more white light. The white uses less energy and therefore has longer wavelengths but emits more blue light.

Kelvin is a unit of measurement used to describe the hue of a specific light source. The higher the Kelvin value of the light source, the closer the light’s color output will be to actual sunlight. Bulbs with an output of 3500K or lower on the scale will have an amber hue.

Bulbs with an output of 3500K or lower on the scale will have an amber hue. Bulbs in the mid-range of 3500K-4100K will have a white hue. Bulbs in the higher 4200K+ range will tend to have more of a blue hue closer to, or exceeding, that of sunlight. 

tinted glasses

Light Filtering Glasses

You may try wearing blue light filtering glasses. You may find that you can sleep better, and your natural rhythms are not being interrupted. Put electrical tape over any led lights in your bedroom that you cannot turn off. Try light blocking drapes for your bedroom windows. Everything you do to control the amount of blue light in the evenings will benefit your health.

Many individuals have begun to wear glasses that filter out the amount of blue light that reaches the eye. If you peruse the internet in the evenings, chances are you are getting too much blue light to allow your body to produce melatonin. Try to wear blue filtering eyeglasses after 8 pm. You need to help your body help you in every way possible.

cat sleeping

Sleep

When the sun goes down, we tend to be sleepier than during the height of the sun in the sky. Humans are very sensitive to the light-dark cycle of days and nights. Probably because we are circadian beings. Essentially our biological processes run on a 24-hour cycle.  Our internal clock is always running. It is a part of our DNA and is inherent in all of us.

Different colors on the light spectrum affect our sleep. It depends on the type of light in question. Patterns of light and darkness impacts sleep-wake cycles. When these natural patterns get disrupted, so does our sleep.

Our health demands both red and blue light. Just be careful not to get too much light on the blue spectrum when thinking about bedtime and sleep. Our internal clock will run much better when our bodies get the right amount of blue and red light at the proper time of day.

Read more at GuideForSeniors.com for all things senior. You can email us at guideforseniors@gmail.com.

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