How Does Blue Light Affect Sleep?

Posted by Emma Sarno on

Blue light is everywhere and hard to avoid. It comes from our TVs, smartphones, tablets, computers, and gaming systems. While many of these devices are necessities of modern life, blue light can unfortunately be detrimental to your sleep.

What is "Blue Light"?

Blue light is an artificial form of light that emits a blue wavelength. It is found in all of the electronics that we use daily. The use of artificial lighting and electronics contributes to sleep problems because they often trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Being exposed to blue light too close to bedtime can interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion.


Circadian Rhythm and Blue Light

Your body has an internal alarm clock known as your circadian rhythm which regulates the time you’re awake and the time you’re asleep. Your internal alarm clock needs to receive signals from the external environment, specifically daylight and darkness, to adjust itself and let you know when it’s time to wind down or get up.

Along with artificial blue light, there is also natural blue light found in the sun. During the day, this type of blue light is helpful to your circadian rhythm because it tends to help you stay alert and improve your mood throughout the day. Blue light becomes problematic for your circadian rhythm when you’re trying to go to sleep because it interferes with your melatonin secretion.

When it gets dark, your pineal glands produce melatonin, which aids in the sleep process. Being exposed to blue light too late at night will disrupt your internal clock and your melatonin secretion.


Tips to Avoid Blue Light Before Bed

Below are some tips on how to avoid being exposed to too much blue light from your devices before bedtime:

  • Use dim, red lights for night lights/reading lights. Red light has been found to least disrupt your circadian rhythm before bed.

  • Avoid looking at bright screens 2-3 hours before bed. Try putting your devices on nighttime mode 2-3 hours before bed.

  • Expose yourself to plenty of bright light during the day which will increase your ability to fall sleep at night.

  • Keep your bedroom completely dark while asleep or use a sleep mask.

If you’ve had a pattern of sleeping problems, too much exposure to blue light could be the reason. Try reducing your exposure to blue light and see if it improves your sleep.


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