How Blocking Blue Light At Night Can Improve Your Sleep

by Dr. Jonathan D'Souza

 

A healthy, uninterrupted sleep is just as important as breathing or eating. And if sleep has been eluding you lately, you aren't alone.Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is a common complaint these days, the fall-outs of a stressful lifestyle. Poor sleep can lead to heart disease, depression, and type 2 diabetes and is one of the biggest risk factors for obesity.[1,2,3,4]

While we have been sleeping much lesser than our predecessors, our quality of sleep has suffered as well. The single largest contributor to our sleeping woes is the use of electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, computers and LED televisions.

These devices give out light of blue wavelengths that makes the brain think that it's daytime.[5] Research suggests that blue light in the evening disrupts the brain's natural sleep-wake cycles, which is essential for the optimal function of the body.[6,7]

How Blue Light Impacts The Brain

Our body has an internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, a 24-hour biological cycle situated in the brain that influences various internal body functions.[8] It determines how wakeful you feel during the day and when you are tired and want to doze off.[9]Blue light stimulates the receptors in the eyes, which send signals to the brain's internal clock.

White light (sunlight) contains a mixture of various wavelengths (including blue wavelength).[10] Getting sunlight (that contains blue light) during daytime is important, as it improves performance and mood.[11] In fact, blue light devices can treat depression and blue light bulbs at offices can reduce fatigue, improve productivity and sleep of workers.[12,13,14]

However, at night, blue light can prove to be a disaster. Modern devices, especially cell phones and tablets, produce blue light that tricks the brain into thinking it's daytime. As the day comes to an end, the pineal gland in the brain secretes the hormone melatonin (known as the sleep hormone), which sends out a signal to the body and the brain that it's time to fall asleep. Blue light is effective in inhibiting melatonin production.[15,16] Melatonin suppression in the evenings can cause various health problems such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, and psychological disorders such as depression.[17,18,19,20]

Simple Ways To Block Blue Light At Home

Follow these simple tips toreduce your exposure to blue light and improve sleep quality.


1. Use blue light blocking glasses while using electronic devices at night. Clinical studies show that people using blue light blocking glasses in a lit room or while using an electronic devices produced the same amount of melatonin as in the dark.[21,22] A study showed that blue light blocking lenses improved sleep and reduced daytime dysfunction in elderly patients with cataract.[23]

2. Switch off all the lights in your home one to two hours before bedtime.

3. Keep your bedroom completely dark when you sleep. You can also use a sleep mask to block light out.

4. If you work late nights, avoid using blue lights and get a red or orange reading lamp.

5. If you work on the computer at night, consider downloading a free software called f.lux. This software adjusts the color and brightness of the screen according to the time zone, minimizing the blue light emitted. Click hereto download it.

Image Source: Shutterstock

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Diseases & Conditions here.

Read More:
Natural Remedies For Better Sleep During Pregnancy

References

1. Cappuccio FP, Cooper D, D'Elia L, Strazzullo P, Miller MA. Sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur Heart J. 2011 Jun;32(12):1484-92. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr007. Epub 2011 Feb 7. Review. PubMed PMID: 21300732.

2. Cappuccio FP, Taggart FM, Kandala N-B, et al. Meta-Analysis of Short Sleep Duration and Obesity in Children and Adults. Sleep. 2008;31(5):619-626.

3. Alvaro PK, Roberts RM, Harris JK. A Systematic Review Assessing Bidirectionality between Sleep Disturbances, Anxiety, and Depression. Sleep. 2013 Jul 1;36(7):1059-1068. PubMed PMID: 23814343; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3669059.

4. Cappuccio FP, D'Elia L, Strazzullo P, Miller MA. Quantity and quality of sleep and incidence of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2010 Feb;33(2):414-20. doi: 10.2337/dc09-1124. Epub 2009 Nov 12. Review. PubMed PMID: 19910503; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2809295.

5. Holzman DC. Whats in a Color? The Unique Human Health Effects of Blue Light. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2010;118(1):A22-A27.

6. Lockley SW, Brainard GC, Czeisler CA. High sensitivity of the human circadian melatonin rhythm to resetting by short wavelength light. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Sep;88(9):4502-5. PubMed PMID: 12970330.

7. Duffy JF, Czeisler CA. Effect of Light on Human Circadian Physiology. Sleep medicine clinics. 2009;4(2):165-177. doi:10.1016/j.jsmc.2009.01.004.
8. Vitaterna MH, Takahashi JS, Turek FW. Overview of circadian rhythms. Alcohol Res Health. 2001;25(2):85-93. Review. PubMed PMID: 11584554.

9. Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, et al.The Circadian Cycle of Sleep and Wakefulness. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2001. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10839/) Site accessed on 03 Aug 2015.

10. Revell VL, Skene DJ. Light-induced melatonin suppression in humans with polychromatic and monochromatic light. Chronobiol Int. 2007;24(6):1125-37. PubMed PMID: 18075803.

11. Mnch M, Linhart F, Borisuit A, Jaeggi SM, Scartezzini JL. Effects of prior light exposure on early evening performance, subjective sleepiness, and hormonal secretion. Behav Neurosci. 2012 Feb;126(1):196-203. doi: 10.1037/a0026702. Epub
2011 Dec 26. PubMed PMID: 22201280.

12. Sanassi LA. Seasonal affective disorder: is there light at the end of the tunnel? JAAPA. 2014 Feb;27(2):18-22;quiz 23. doi: 10.1097/01.JAA.0000442698.03223.f3. PubMed PMID: 24394440.

13. Tuunainen A, Kripke DF, Endo T. Light therapy for non-seasonal depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(2):CD004050. Review. PubMed PMID: 15106233.

14. Viola AU, James LM, Schlangen LJ, Dijk DJ. Blue-enriched white light in the workplace improves self-reported alertness, performance and sleep quality. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2008 Aug;34(4):297-306. Epub 2008 Sep 22. PubMed PMID: 18815716.

15. Gooley JJ, Chamberlain K, Smith KA, et al. Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011;96(3):E463-E472. doi:10.1210/jc.2010-2098.

16. Figueiro MG, Wood B, Plitnick B, Rea MS. The impact of light from computer monitors on melatonin levels in college students. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2011;32(2):158-63. PubMed PMID: 21552190.

17. Reiter RJ, Tan DX, Korkmaz A, Ma S. Obesity and metabolic syndrome: association with chronodisruption, sleep deprivation, and melatonin suppression. Ann Med. 2012 Sep;44(6):564-77. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2011.586365. Epub 2011 Jun 13. Review. PubMed PMID: 21668294.

18. Dominguez-Rodriguez A, Abreu-Gonzalez P, Sanchez-Sanchez JJ, Kaski JC, Reiter RJ. Melatonin and circadian biology in human cardiovascular disease. J Pineal Res. 2010 Aug;49(1):14-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079X.2010.00773.x. Epub 2010 Jun 1. Review. PubMed PMID: 20536686.

19. Quera Salva MA, Hartley S, Barbot F, Alvarez JC, Lofaso F, Guilleminault C. Circadian rhythms, melatonin and depression. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(15):1459-70. Review. PubMed PMID: 21476953.

20. Davis S, Mirick DK. Circadian disruption, shift work and the risk of cancer: a summary of the evidence and studies in Seattle. Cancer Causes Control. 2006 May;17(4):539-45. Review. PubMed PMID: 16596308.

21. Wood B, Rea MS, Plitnick B, Figueiro MG. Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. Appl Ergon. 2013 Mar;44(2):237-40. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2012.07.008. Epub 2012 Jul
31. PubMed PMID: 22850476.

22. Sasseville A, Paquet N, Svigny J, Hbert M. Blue blocker glasses impede the capacity of bright light to suppress melatonin production. J Pineal Res. 2006 Aug;41(1):73-8. PubMed PMID: 16842544.

23. Wei X, She C, Chen D, Yan F, Zeng J, Zeng L, Wang L. Blue-light-blocking intraocular lens implantation improves the sleep quality of cataract patients. J Clin Sleep Med. 2013 Aug 15;9(8):741-5. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.2908. PubMed PMID:
23946702; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3716663.

 

Related Articles

Join The Conversation

Comments