We've been picking up vibrations on the interwebs about blue light and sleep, and, since we all know that sleep is imperative to being our best and most of don't get enough or quality sleep, we decided to look into it.
We've come to see the light.
Unless you were really hung over or just finished an ultra, you've probably found that sleeping in the daylight hours is difficult, especially if you're exposed to any daylight at all. Our bodies are programmed with Circadian Rhythms (see references below), which control brain waves that set our sleep patterns and mood, creativity, and focus, among other things. The wavelength frequency of different colors effects these rhythms and, since daylight is on the blue end of the color spectrum, our brains want to wake up when we experience blue light. Not good for sleep.
Unfortunately, there are lots of factors in our environment that put out blue light in the dark hours - office lighting, LEDs, monitors, electronic screens of any kind, car dashboards, even the sign for the pizza joint next door - all of which conspire to interrupt your brain from enjoying a deep sleep. "Blue light" is considered any light that has a temperature greater than 3000K. This is confusing - how does a color have a temperature, right? What you need to know is that after the daylight hours, you want to avoid exposure to light with temps above 2700K ("Bright White", "Daylight" or "Cool White" lamps). "Soft White" lamps are on the low end of the temperature spectrum: typically 2400 - 2700K. Experts recommend you install these low-temperature lamps wherever you spend your evening hours, as exposure to blue light as much as 3 hours before you actually turn the lights out can effect your sleep.
Thankfully, there are app-based solutions, too:
- For Windows and Apple laptops and devices, consider installing an app like Flux
- For Android devices, we like the Twilight app from the Play Store
- For Nook readers, download this app
- For Kindle readers, use a filtering screen protector
- Wear filtering glasses you can find on Amazon - stylish!!!
- Filter treatments are now available on prescription lenses - ask your optometrist next time you're ordering glasses.
- Check for filtering apps on your newer devices (most have one)
- Decrease the brightness of your display (many devices have an auto-dimming setting)
- If you have one of those little goose-neck LED reading lamps from on your nightstand, hit the lens with a brown and/or red Sharpie ;-)
- If you're looking for LED lighting fixtures that dim from daylight down to soft white, check out USAI Lighting - they seem like the silver bullet!
Traveling? Blue light can be anywhere and out of your control. When we're sleeping, the best bet is a good eye cover. Personally, I can't stand something strapped around my head while I sleep, so I use a soft, dark T-shirt draped over my head - works wonders.
We hope this information allows you a better night's sleep and preps you to GoBeAmazing the next day. Feel free to share your experience and any other suggestions.