Even though sleep has been highly underrated in the past decades and people’s sleep quantity and quality has decreased, this is one of health’s basic elements. Lack of sleep is linked to various diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and mood disorders.
There are however ways in which we could improve the quality of our sleep. Research proves that there is a link between light and sleep problems. The body’s natural circadian rhythm is disrupted by the use of artificial lighting in the evening; to be more precise, by blue light.
Blue Light Use – Daytime vs. Nighttime
The brain’s internal clock regulates our 24-hour biological cycle and determines when we are active and alert and when we feel tired and go to sleep. The circadian rhythm keeps its accuracy and adjusts itself by looking for signals in the environment. One of the factors that influence our internal clock is light.
Our eye sensors are influenced by blue light in particular. Sunlight contains a lot of blue light and therefore is associated by the brain with activity and performance. During evening and night hours we should be exposed to as little blue light as possible.
The problem is that electronic devices and modern light bulbs contain high levels of blue light, “tricking” our brain into thinking its still daytime. This further leads to low melatonin production and therefore low quantities and quality of sleep.
Using Blue-Blocking Glasses at Night
One of the easiest ways to avoid blue light in the evening is using amber-colored glasses that block it. This way, the brain doesn’t get the signal that is should stay awake anymore and the body starts producing melatonin as if it were dark. Research shows that these glasses also improve sleep and mental performance.
Other Ways to Block Blue Light
There are other ways to reduce blue light exposure at night, for example, downloading the F.lux program to your computer. It will automatically adjust the color and brightness of your screen, according to the time of the day in your timezone.
You might also consider using a sleep mask, turning all the lights off 1-2 hours before going to bed or switching to candlelight or red or orange reading lamps.
All of these methods are meant to make you fall asleep faster and get a better sleep during the night, waking up feeling refreshed and well rested in the morning. However, make sure you get enough blue light during daytime, since it’s a key element to your health and energy level.