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What Happens to Our Health When We Turn Off Blue Light?

What Happens to Our Health When We Turn Off Blue Light?

blue light, turn off blue light

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Realistically, blue light is everywhere. But today when we talk about blue light, we’re often referring to it in the context of artificial light and technology. In this context, blue light has become a burden to our lives in often unseen ways. Turning off blue light has become a healthy choice people are becoming aware of. In this article, we’re going to explore a few reasons to turn off blue light including balancing the circadian rhythm, falling asleep faster, and reducing eye strain. Then we’ll talk about some easy ways to reduce blue light exposure, particularly at night. 

Turn Off Blue Light for Circadian Rhythm 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “blue light has a dark side. Although it is environmentally friendly, blue light can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.” It turns out if we don’t get enough sleep, a host of health issues can erupt into our lives. After all, sleep is incredibly important and plays numerous roles in maintaining our health. 

Let’s hone back into circadian rhythm for a moment—what, more precisely, is it? Let’s break this down. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “circadian” means “being, having, characterized by, or occurring in approximately 24-hour periods or cycles (as of biological activity or function).” And then we have “rhythm” which basically means this 24-hour period is ongoing. The circadian rhythm is our biological internal clock that dictates when we feel restful and when we feel wakeful. 

According to SleepFoundation.org, “A part of your hypothalamus (a portion of your brain) controls your circadian rhythm. That said, outside factors like lightness and darkness can also impact it. When it’s dark at night, your eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus that it’s time to feel tired. Your brain, in turn, sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, which makes your body tired.” Melatonin is an extremely important compound for our sleep. Many people need to take melatonin supplements because their natural production of it is hindered. How does this happen? Often, unfortunately, this happens due to light exposure before bed, particularly from blue light screens. 

What Happens to Our Health When We Turn Off Blue Light?

Turn Off Blue Light to Fall Asleep Faster

As one might expect, our sleep rhythms are what they are due to the way our ancestors lived. Nighttime for them didn’t mean sitting around artificial light including phone screens and television. 

We, on the other hand, are bombarded with artificial blue light, particularly at night. The world has an addiction to looking into blue light screens. We find it difficult to turn off blue light. In the evenings, we feed off television, games, and social media. This seems normal to many, and rightfully so. Yet as previously mentioned, blue light exposure can be detrimental to our natural melatonin production, thus harmful to our sleep, thus dangerous to our overall well-being and health. 

The answer may seem obvious by now: let’s just begin turning off all blue light after sundown. This is a good solution because it turns out there are other reasons to reduce blue light exposure as well. 

Turn Off Blue Light to Reduce Eye Strain

According to PreventBlindness.org, “blue light from computer screens and digital devices can decrease contrast leading to digital eye strain. Fatigue, dry eyes, bad lighting, or how you sit in front of the computer can cause eyestrain. Symptoms of eyestrain include sore or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing. Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.” 

So not only should we be concerned about missing out on sleep, but we can actually damage our eyes by looking at screens. Here are a few ways to be on screens (whether it be during the night or day) without risking damage to your eyes.

  • Look away from the screen often. This reduces the lack of contrast that can lead to digital eye strain. 
  • Take frequent breaks. Get up, walk around, look at other things (preferably far-away things).
  • Use distance. Try to increase the distance between your eyes and the screen (as much as possible). 

How to Turn Off Blue Light At Night (Or Reduce It)

Now, readers, it’s time to think about how to reduce or not use blue light at night altogether. For some, thinking about how to turn off blue light at night seems daunting. Luckily, there’ll be some alternatives. 

Try Blue-Blocking Glasses 

Blue-blocking glasses are tinted with amber to eliminate practically all blue light from reaching the eyes. Studies have shown that using this simple blue-blocking technology stops blue light from signaling “wakefulness” in our brains. What does this mean? Higher melatonin production in the brain and thus sleepiness at night (when sleepiness should come!). Blue-blocking glasses can be found in many different styles and can even be made to cover eyeglasses.

Do Computer Work in the Morning or Afternoon 

Many people rely on technology for their jobs or other independent work. If possible, attempt to get all computer work completed in the morning or afternoon so you don’t have to stare into screens at night. This may require some sacrifices and rescheduling, but it’s worth it for balancing the circadian rhythm and feeling more energized after a good night’s sleep. 

Change Your Light Bulbs 

So far, we’ve talked about limiting or modifying screen-time in order to limit blue light directly entering the eyes. But blue light doesn’t only come from screens. It’s in our home-lighting, lamps, etc. as well. Using these lights at night, like using screens, can lower melatonin production and alter sleep negatively. If you wish to take your modifications more seriously, try changing all the light bulbs in your house to blue-light-free light bulbs (most conventional home light bulbs contain blue-light wavelengths). The blue-light-free light bulbs produce amber-hued light.

Wellness Depends on Good Sleep

Perhaps you or other readers might view the information in this article as a bit “overboard.” But know that the science is clear. Blue light exposure at night does, in fact, lead to trouble falling asleep and can even disrupt our sleep cycles once we are asleep. Sleep is important for so many bodily (including brain!) functions. It comes as no surprise that sleep is vital for preventing chronic illness and even short term illness.

Interested in learning more ways to optimize your health? Visit the TelMD Upstream Blog.

Let’s Make Wellness Contagious!™

blue light, turn off blue light

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