How does blue light affect sleep?

| 27.12.2020

Is it hard for you to fall asleep at night, or are you sleepy in the morning? Blame it on the blue light color on mobile, computer, and television screens.

No matter if you were watching a nature documentary or a dark movie, the screen was emitting cyan, a mixture of blue and green. Precisely, this color keeps you awake because it inhibits the sleep hormone melatonin production.

To avoid this problem, it is often recommended to stop looking at the screens two hours before bedtime, but the truth is that they are so addictive that few people voluntarily turn them off to do other things.

For this reason, researchers at the University of Manchester propose to manufacture the screens with a technology that allows the cyan color to be displayed or eliminated at will.

It is possible to sleep well again by removing blue light from the screens.

Some current devices have a “night mode” that attempts to reduce blue light’s insomniac effect, but the image appears orange and continues to emit a cyan dose.

 

Turn off the light and turn on your melatonin!

This is so because current screens work with the RGB system, which mixes three colors (Red, Green, Blue). The British researchers, who have published their work in the journal Sleep, propose to switch to a four-color system that allows blue light to be eliminated without showing an alteration in the image.

The same technology would allow blue light to be activated in the morning when we are interested in being awake.

 

Reducing blue light increases the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

The scientists found that they could effectively reduce or increase melatonin’s secretion by increasing or decreasing the blue light in the screens with new technology.

Research from the University of Manchester draws attention to the effects of light. Technology can be improved, but it is also essential that we adapt our way of life, habits, and natural conditions that establish, through light, a biological rhythm of activity and rest.

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hard to sleep

Better: more natural light and fewer screens

To avoid sleep disturbances, it is advisable to wake up early and receive natural light intensity as soon as possible. A walk first thing in the morning can eliminate drowsiness and make us sleepy at night.

  • Why is it so hard for us to sleep

All these elements are part of our work or leisure, and we spend many hours with them. Therefore, our exposure to this type of light increased considerably.

Due to this phenomenon’s importance in our daily reality, the experts decided to analyze its effects on our bodies.

Specialists claim that exposure to light suppresses melatonin secretion, influencing the natural sleep cycle. These are some studies that sought to provide answers about this phenomenon:

  • A team from Harvard University carried out an experiment where they assigned a group of volunteers to night hours, which gradually changed their biological clocks’ rhythm. They found a possible connection between blue light, diabetes, and obesity from analyzing the data obtained. The causes of this association are due to changes in metabolism.
  • A research team led by neuroscientist Steven Lockley of Harvard University found a link between poor sleep and an increased risk of depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. This involves blue light for more than 6 hours; they exposed a group of volunteers to different lights. The results showed that blue light suppressed melatonin synthesis two times more than other lights. 
  • Researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada compared melatonin levels in two groups of participants. The first was exposed to indoor blue light but was given protective goggles. In the second, people were exposed to regular dim light without wearing glasses or other protection. The fact that the hormone levels were practically the same in the two groups reinforced the hypothesis that blue light is a powerful suppressant of melatonin.

How to protect ourselves from blue light?

There are several precautions you can take to prevent this light from affecting your sleep and causing long-term complications:

  • Use dim red lights for night lighting. Red light is less effective in modifying your biological clock and suppressing melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens in the hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use many electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue light filtering glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength.
  • It receives a lot of light during the day; this will make it easier for you to sleep at night.
How to protect ourselves from blue light

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It is also advisable to reduce the lighting’s intensity and make it warm in the afternoon. It is a suitable light for relaxation, chat, and gradually introducing us into the world of sleep.

And at night, while we sleep, complete darkness must reign in the bedroom. It is also highly recommended to eliminate any interference from artificial electromagnetic waves: mobile and cordless phones or radio alarm clocks plugged in.

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