August 28, 2021
Our modern society runs on technology, twenty-four hours a day, year-round. This technology has made laptops, notebooks, smartphones, and other devices that we use every single day. But while this technology has brought innumerable benefits, it comes with a hefty price tag. And that price is blue light exposure from electronic screens.
This exposure to blue light is likely affecting you in ways you likely don’t know about, disrupting your sleep, damaging your eyes, decreasing your productivity, and wreaking havoc with your circadian rhythm which is your built-in biological clock that controls all your hormones as well as every cell in your body.
Light is made up of electromagnetic particles that move in waves that differ from each other in both length and strength. These waves also emit energy with shorter waves being more energy-intensive than longer ones. But what about blue light?
Blue light has a very short wavelength of 380 nm (nanometer or billionth of a meter) to 500 nm. When you are outside, you are exposed to a lot of blue light, as it’s present in sunlight. As the light from the sun travels through the earth’s atmosphere, these short blue light waves run into air molecules and this causes them to scatter. It’s this scattering of blue light that makes the sky look blue to the human eye.
Blue light is not all bad, as your body needs these blue wavelengths to regulate your biological clock. When you are exposed to blue light during the day, this helps you to stay awake and alert, as well as boosts your mood and increases your sense of well-being.
But here’s the “dark side” of blue light. When you get too much blue light, especially when it comes from artificial sources like computer and phone screens, then it can start to do damage. Most people spend the better part of their day looking at a computer screen. And when you are not looking at your computer, you are likely to be looking at your smartphone, another source of blue light. And this doesn’t even count your electronic tablet, your television, and fluorescent and LED lighting. Plus, even “natural” light coming through your home or office windows is unbalanced as it has more blue in it as a result of being filtered through the glass. In short, we are all blue light toxic!
Too much blue light can lead to disrupted sleep, and even an increased risk of depression, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and certain cancers. These detrimental effects are related to the hormone melatonin, which regulates your sleep and your biological clock. When you get too much blue light, your production of melatonin decreases. This not only disrupts your sleep but can actually cause your biological clock to shift. Since this master clock is responsible for all the other cellular clocks present in your organs, many vital pathways can get disrupted, leading to disease.
So what can you do to correct this? After all, most people are not going to suddenly stop using their computers and smartphones!
One - Get out in the sun, even for a few minutes, as soon as you can after you get up. This will help to reset your biological clock and give you a boost in mood.
Two - Block the blue lighton your electronic devices when you are using them in the evening or at night by downloading one of the many free filters (such as flux.io). You may also want to consider getting a pair of blue-blocking glasses to use while working at your computer in the evening.
Three - Try your best to limit your screen exposure in the evenings by stopping working on your computer or looking at your phone for two hours prior to bed. If you must use a light at night, consider getting one with a red light, as it has less ability to negatively affect your circadian rhythm.