What Can Blue Light Impact?
Too much exposure to blue light can affect the human body, both mentally and physically.
There have been many studies on the effect that blue light exposure has on us, and some studies have found that those exposed to it have a greater chance of developing specific cancers like breast and prostate cancer. More specifically, however, blue light has more significant interaction with the eyes than any other part of the body, so naturally, the blue light will affect that primarily.
Phototoxicity and age-related macular degeneration are two degenerative aspects of excessive blue light exposure that can affect eyesight.
As the saying goes, the eyes are the window to the soul, and as a psychiatrist, I believe there is a fair bit of accuracy in this statement.
We know that blue light can directly penetrate through the back of the retina, but Blue light can disorientate the circadian rhythm, leading to insomnia.
This is because Melatonin, more famously known as the sleep hormone (the hormone which regulates the cycle of waking up and going to sleep), decreases when exposed to this blue light, which was found in the study by Ann-Marie Change et al.
Their study found that the rise of pineal melatonin secreted and that subjective “sleepiness” had decreased as well as EEG delta/theta activity.
Sleep is an essential element of maintaining mental wellbeing as a lack of can cause mood swings and depression.
When sleeping, toxins are removed from the brain built up during time spent awake, and this has been found through a study that observed cerebrospinal fluid washing in and out of the brain during sleep, so sleep is an essential part of detoxing.
A reduction in sleep caused by excessive blue light exposure at nighttime can also affect physiological elements of an individuals health, such as metabolism, immune function, heart health and more. These, too, can have an added effect on mental health and wellbeing.
What Can People Do To Avoid Negative Repercussions Of Blue Light?
Try limiting blue light exposure throughout the day, but if this is not possible, then set boundaries within the bedroom in terms of blue light exposure.
At a minimum, it is advised that you are getting no blue light exposure at least an hour before going to bed.
Here are some practical solutions that can be immediately implemented to mitigate blue light exposure:
- > Remove any blue light devices away from your bedroom, i.e. laptop, television and mobile phone.
- > Reading a book or meditating are some of the most common activities individuals use to replace blue light use before bedtime.
- > Activities such as meditation and reading are also a great way to maintain a high level of attention as it is widely accepted that our phones, specifically social media, are decreasing our attention spans.
- > If working with blue light is essential, then there are glasses you can purchase that are believed to reduce the amount of blue light that enters your eyes.
Any Other Advice/Practices For Those Struggling With Sleep Due To Screens And Blue Light?
It’s optimal to reduce blue light between 3-4 hours before going to sleep, so if you are still struggling to get to sleep after stopping exposure 1 hour before bed, it would be advisable to increase that time.
Of course, it is not always blue light that can be the causation for lack of sleep. Anxiety and depression can also affect our ability to sleep, so this is why meditation may also be a good way of improving sleep.
Other positive changes to improve sleep quality include eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and ensuring you are well hydrated.
View the below infographic for more information on the impact of blue light:
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