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