DOES “BLUE LIGHT” RE­ALLY AF­FECT MY SLEEP? IF SO, WHAT CAN I DO?

Family Circle - - HEALTH - Michael Breus, PHD, is a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and au­thor. For more info, go to thesleep­doc­tor.com.

It does. Re­search shows that blue light sup­presses mela­tonin pro­duc­tion about twice as long as other light wave­lengths and also al­ters cir­ca­dian rhythms. But there’s more: Com­puter screens, tablets and tele­vi­sions aren’t the only way you are exposed to this part of the light spec­trum, which is ag­gres­sive in stim­u­lat­ing sleep­less­ness. The largest source of blue light is ac­tu­ally sun­light! Blue light is also found in flu­o­res­cent and LED light­bulbs.

Thank­fully, there are plenty of tools that counter its ef­fects.

One op­tion is blue-light-block­ing soft­ware like f.lux, a free pro­gram for your com­puter. There are also fil­ters that can be placed over screens and eye­glasses you can wear to re­duce un­wanted ex­po­sure to the stim­u­lat­ing waves.

Be­cause blue light is part of the spec­trum of all light, you might also con­sider LED bulbs in your home that are de­signed with our cir­ca­dian bi­ol­ogy in mind. They min­i­mize the neg­a­tive ef­fects of blue-wave­length light at night—and take ad­van­tage of its en­er­giz­ing ef­fects dur­ing the day. In our house, we use Light­ing Sci­ence’s Good­night bulbs (lsgc.com, $18 each) in the bed­rooms and Good­day bulbs (lsgc.com, $18 each) in places like my of­fice and my kids’ bath­rooms. (Lit­tle do they know it helps them wake up!) Lastly, con­sider a carotenoid sup­ple­ment, like lutein and zeax­an­thin. Your eyes have their own blue-light shield—it’s a thin layer of cells near the retina that con­tain carotenoids we ab­sorb through our diet. This layer both pro­tects the retina against mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion and acts as a fil­ter for blue-wave­length light. A sup­ple­ment may help strengthen your eyes’ nat­u­ral abil­i­ties but, again, it can take 30 days for ben­e­fits to kick in.

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