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How Blue Light Impacts Your Sleep

Your body’s unique internal clock has an ideal circadian rhythm. Most people feel their best when their daily habits align with that rhythm. Unfortunately, certain choices or habits can disrupt it and impact your productivity and energy level.

One of the most common disruptors is the blue light part of the visible light spectrum found in screens, electronic devices, LEDs, and fluorescent lighting.

The Impact of Blue Light on Sleep

Your eyes have special receptors called “photoreceptors” that constantly track the amount of light in your environment. These receptors send messages to one of your brain’s tongue-twister, time-keeping centers: the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

These messages alert your internal clock of daily sunlight, or lack thereof, to help prepare your body for sleep. Based on these messages, your brain sends instructions to either produce or suppress your body’s sleep promoting hormone, melatonin.

The game of telephone between your eyes and brain works well when the information being relayed is sunrise and sunset.  However, electronic devices, and much of the inside lighting we use in our homes and offices, emit high-intensity blue light that gets misinterpreted as daylight.

Your eyes send a message to your brain that the sun is still shining, even if it already set long ago. This is okay during the middle of the day when you are trying to stay alert, but it prevents melatonin production at night when you should be winding down for bed.

Tips for Limiting Blue Light Exposure

Fortunately, you can fight technology with technology. The key is to reduce or eliminate blue light so your body can resume its natural circadian rhythm.

Check out these tools that reduce blue light to improve your sleep:

  • Blue light-blocking screen filters: Blue light-blocking filters are available for almost any computer, tablet, or smartphone. These filters adhere to the screen of the device and will eliminate most of the device’s blue light emission.
  • Software and apps: Apple iOS (Night Shift) and Android OS (Night Light) allow you to set a schedule for reducing the amount of blue light your device emits. Similarly, some computers support the application Flux, which also lets you schedule blue light reduction.
  • Lighting: Special light bulbs can reduce or eliminate blue light as well. Two examples of these bulbs are the Philips Hue and the Lighting Science GoodNight Biological LED Lamp.
  • Blue light-blocking glasses: Blue light-blocking glasses, such as the Swanwick Sleep Swannies, are scientifically backed and are a great complementary tool to other blue-light-blocking technologies. They are reasonably stylish and will block any lingering blue light from electronic devices and most home lighting.

Start with one of the above hacks and you may find yourself falling asleep faster or boosting the amount of deep sleep you get each night. To see if it’s working, look for these patterns in your sleep.

Everyone’s body moves to a different rhythm, so find the hack that works best for you.

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