Modern society has lightened up our lives to the fullest. Streetlights to guide us, warning lights to alert us, floodlights to protect us. All of which is good. But all that light is not always positive- especially at night. Light-emitting diode (LED) lights have become popular in India as they are less expensive and more energy efficient. But their health impacts have been largely out of the public domain. The negative effects of using LED and blue lights at night can be both mental and physical, and they far outweigh any perceived benefits.
LED lights emit the short-wave, high-energy blue, and violet end of the visible light spectrum. This light controls our sleep cycle and the right way of exposure is important to maintain our circadian rhythm. Many people complain of itchiness, redness in the eyes, and mild headaches after continuous exposure to LED lights. Life-long exposure of the retina and lens to blue peaks from LEDs can increase the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
What is blue light?
Not all wavelengths of LED light have an identical effect. Blue wavelengths- which are beneficial during daylight because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood seem to be the most disruptive in the dark. And also the era of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting in the house, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.
Light and sleep
Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the typical length is 24 and 15 minutes. The biological time of individuals who stay up late into the night is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds come short of 24 hours. Daylight keeps a human internal clock aligned with the environment.
Is nighttime light exposure bad?
Some studies suggest a link between exposure to light in the hours of darkness, like working the night shift, to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. That’s not proof that nighttime light exposure causes these conditions, neither is it clear why it may well be bad for us.
Exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms. Even dim light can interfere with an individual’s biological time and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux- a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of an evening light- has a control. Light in the dead of night is a component of the explanation numerous people are not getting enough sleep and researchers have linked lack of sleep time to increased risk for depression, similar to diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Effects of blue light and sleep
While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light in the dark does so more effectively and powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the results of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long because the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice the maximum amount (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).
In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of individuals exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light-blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The actual fact that the amount of the hormone was about identical within the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light could be a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they are not suitable to be used indoors in the dead of night.
LED blue light exposure
If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and therefore the search for energy-efficient lighting might be at odds with personal health. Those fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are far more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to provide more blue light.
The physics of fluorescent lights cannot be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be, in order that they produce a hotter, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a good amount of light within the blue spectrum.
Sleep safely and soundly
Leaving lights on at or just before bedtime can result in unsatisfying, disrupted sleep, to not mention all types of health risks. Keep the following pointers in mind to shield yourself from harmful blue light and to induce better quality sleep.
Power down your electronics. Before you hit the pillow, turn your TV, laptop, and phone to “night mode” and limit your use of other blue lights, like LEDs, a minimum of an hour before bed. When your electronics are in “night mode,” they will have yellow screens rather than blue ones and won’t distract you before bedtime. Healthy sleep equals stress-free sleep. Turn your bedroom into a worry-free zone right before you hit the hay. Since blue light disturbs sleep, keep your electronics removed from you so you won’t be tempted to test anything within the middle of the night. An app could also be your answer. Can’t seem to interrupt your habit of using electronics at night? Install an app to separate the blue wavelengths for you and limits your app times. Pure darkness is vital. Set yourself up to sleep better by using blackout curtains from Livpure and/or a sleep mask. Dim the lights down low. Install dimmer switches so that you can lower the lights in the dead of night to assist your body to go to sleep.
Let there be morning light!
While you would like a dark bedroom for sleeping, getting up to the light in the morning is truly an amazing thing. Exposure to natural light helps boost your mood and increase levels of energy and application, so open the curtains as soon as you are up and start your day refreshed. If you get up before the sun does, there are other varieties of light that are safe to use in the morning. Lower-wattage lightbulbs (between 45 and 50 watts) offer gentle light. Smart lightbulbs change color, and while you will be able to program them to change to yellow/amber lights to assist you to sleep at midnight, you will even have them change to brighter lights in the morning.
Still can’t fall asleep?
If you follow the sleep tips and still have struggles sleeping, check with your doctor to determine if you have got underlying issues or any serious sleep disorder, that must be treated.
Following a healthy sleep routine and healthy lifestyle is not only good for sleep, but it is also essential for overall health. Now that you know how to use light to have the best rest, manipulate light exposure according to your needs.