How to minimise your exposure to blue light
Exposure to blue light during the day is a good thing. This natural short wave light keeps us awake, energised and can boost our mood. But blue light radiating from our digital devices at night can wreak havoc on our sleep.
Digital devices, energy saving lights (LED) and fluorescent lights all emit blue light which supresses the natural hormone that makes you sleep, melatonin.
Bupa’s National Medical Director and GP Dr Tim Ross looks at ways to minimise your exposure to this high energy light at night to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
Dim the lights
Remember switching your globes to the energy saving LED’s? While it’s better for the environment LED lights can produce quite a lot of blue light as do fluorescent lights. If you use a dimmer, that can help reduce the level of blue light you are exposed to in the evening. It’s also worth switching off any lights you don’t really need on. Using only the essential lights will limit your exposure to blue light and just think of the money you’ll save when the electricity bill arrives.
I’m a big promoter of not having digital devices in the bedroom especially for those with teenagers who constantly check their phones because of a fear of missing out (FOMO). I think it’s more natural to sleep without laptops and tablets at our bedsides. While many people use their mobile as an alarm clock, why not slip it onto night mode or do not disturb to prevent the temptation to check social media or reply to a work email? There are people who wake up in the middle of the night and check their phone which in terms of blue light exposure is akin to waking up in the morning with the sun streaming through the window. The blue light hits the back of our eyes, and tells our body to wake up as if it’s morning.
Wear blue light glasses
If parting with your beloved device is out of the question, you could try wearing glasses with an added blue light filter. This significantly reduces the amount of blue light your eyes absorb at night, hence your melatonin levels will rise naturally to help give you a good night’s sleep. By wearing glasses you can filter blue light from multiple sources including LED lights, laptops, phones and television.
While you wouldn’t normally wear glasses with a blue light filter during the day, researchers have seen improvements in the sleep patterns of shift workers who have worn these glasses after finishing work. It’s believed the blue light filter helped encourage a rise in their melatonin levels, so they could sleep easier once they arrived home.
If you don’t wear glasses you can buy a non-prescription pair with a blue light filter, or if you do wear glasses you can add a filter to the lens of your prescription pair.
It seems there is an app for everything, even filtering blue light on your smart phone or tablet. There are several apps you can use which use a red overlay to effectively null the negative effects of blue light in the evening.
The apps will make your screen appear darker and with a red tinge, but they might also help to reduce the level of eye strain. Most of these apps automatically detect whether its day or night so there is no need to change it to night mode.
Getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly valuable. Sleep deprivation can impact all areas of our lives from our health and wellbeing, our performance at work and even our safety. It’s important to think about the best way to manage your use of devices to ensure you’re giving your body the best chance of having a healthy nights sleep.