What the heck is blue light and why does disrupt my sleep?
I was going to take some time to talk about the some great habits to start/stop to increase your sleep. During my research I found most articles talk a lot about reducing blue light exposure throughout the day, or removing it entirely from your bedtime routine. I am sure you have heard the term ‘blue light’ before in reference to your technological devices; phone, tablet, computer and even TV. Which posed the question to me, “What the heck is blue light and why should I be avoiding it?”
As it turns out blue light is simply a particular wave length, within the light spectrum, often referred to as blue light, additionally known as high-energy visible light. It occurs naturally and we intake it daily (well most days in Canada) from sunlight. Of course mankind being who we are, we have found a way to concentrate the blue light through digital devices and even fluorescent lights. So if it’s natural why does it effect my sleep?
So to get in to some grade 7 science classes over here. Unlike the rays on the red end of the light spectrum, which have longer wavelengths and less energy. Rays on the blue end have shorter wavelengths and more energy. At this point you might be asking, “Cat, what’s what your point?” Because of the energy from blue light and where it is received within the retina blue light has a profound impact on the creation of the sleep hormone we love so much, melatonin. Just a reminder, Melatonin is responsible for making you feel sleepy.
Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, and directly affects your bodies ability to control its circadian rhythm. This is why sunlight can wake you up naturally in the morning and you tend to feel sleepier in dark environment. That’s why Canadian winters make us want to hibernate. Your circadian rhythm is responsible for telling your body when it is time to sleep and wake up. Therefore any disturbances to this cycle will affect you falling asleep or even staying asleep.
This does not mean that you should avoid blue light entirely. Research has shown that blue light boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and elevates mood. To improve sleep it is recommended that you put away your devices and turn off that TV at least 2 hours before bedtime.
Although there are other risks associated with blue light exposure, such has digital eye strain or even macular degeneration. Here at CFSTC Nutrition we are all about stepping stones to the big picture, our overall health. The focus today is reducing blue light before bedtime for a better night sleep!
For more tips on a good night sleep check out the WAG post “10 Simple Strategies for a Good Night’s Sleep”