Scrolling through your phone. It’s a common feature of the nighttime routine for many, and although it’s good to reflect on the previous day, doing so through a bright phone screen just before you go to sleep isn’t so great. And although you may not know it, your relationship with your phone is actually corrupting the quality of your sleep before you’ve even slept.
The blaring truth of the matter is that each and every one of your devices is predominantly emitting something called blue light, and although its presence in human history is both old and new, it’s garnering a series of serious physical and mental problems for modern sleepers all over the increasingly-digital world.
But What Exactly is Blue Light?
Blue light is one of the shortest wavelengths of light in our visible spectrum. But because it has a short wavelength, blue light also emits more energy than other types of light. You’ll be exposing your eyes to blue light whenever you look at a phone, television, tablet, or computer screen. It’s very common in most artificial forms of light.
But what’s really interesting to know about blue light is how it influences the body. When present, blue light improves memory, cognitive function, and alertness. But when it’s gone, the brain compensates by producing certain hormones that prepare the body for calm and rest.
Keeping that in mind, you might also be interested to know that blue light isn’t all that artificial. In fact, the biggest source of blue light in the world is actually the sun. Sunlight is the all-powerful provider of blue light, and it reminds us that many cycles in life depend on its rotation; including our sleep.
Why is Blue Light Bad for Sleep?
In the time long before artificial blue light, humans would rise naturally in the light of the day, and sleep during the darkness of the night. This is because darkness triggers the release of melatonin;
the hormone that induces sleep. This is why you’re more likely to feel sleepy sitting in a dark room than you would be standing in a sunny park.
Normally, when we’re awake, melatonin levels are low, and when we’re asleep, melatonin levels are high. When we see blue light, such as that of the sun or a phone screen, the brain suppresses melatonin levels as it senses that it’s not night time anymore and the body should be awake.
And this instinctive cycle would be all fine and dandy if only mobile screens weren’t blaring in our faces 24/7. The problem is that many digital screens deceive the brain into thinking that it’s not night time, and so disrupt the natural sleep cycle. In an ever brighter and ever digital world, this unhealthy relationship could cause serious problems to health and human development.
The onset of sleep deprivation and insomnia by excessive blue light exposure will cause many problems for you both in the short and long term. Irritability, fatigue, and lack of focus will all be at your door, whilst more serious issues like the experience of microsleep and psychosis are also likely to arise.
You can read more about what exactly happens to the body when it doesn’t get all the sleep it needs by checking out our recent blog ‘Is it really bad for you to not get enough sleep?’ here.
On a visual level, long term blue light exposure isn’t all that great for your eyes either. Because out of all the different types of light, the eye struggles to block blue light the most, excessive exposure to it will definitely contribute to the deterioration of retinal cells and the onset of vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration.
Due to the fact that blue light is both short in wavelength and high in energy, it scatters when it enters the eye through the cornea and lens, and creates an almost overbearing form of light noise.
This light noise reduces the contrast of what you’re looking at, which is important when reading small text, and can cause the eyes to strain. In addition to this, most people have a tendency to blink less when they’re looking at a screen, which gives way to issues with dry eyes and irritability. When looking into it, none of these experiences sound fun at all!
What Can I Do To Avoid The Influence of Blue Light?
Fortunately for everyone, there are lots of things you can do to protect your eyes, yourself, and your dreams from the wretched reach of blue light. Here’s what we would do:
1. Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Of course, we have to be as practical as possible in our solutions, and of course we understand that late nights sometimes have to happen. If this is the case for you, and you just can’t get away from your computer screen or phone, then we would absolutely recommend these Blue Light Blocking Glasses.
They significantly reduce the amount of blue light exposure by 90%, and are an ideal solution if you’re looking for a peaceful sleep after a long night. There’s lots of different styles to choose from, and the set even comes complete with its own cleaning kit. And you don’t need a prescription to wear them.
2. Put Down the Screens
In an increasingly connected world, the task of removing yourself from the blue light of digital devices is easier said than done, but it is the only way to ensure that you escape its influence entirely.
Instead, try to cultivate healthier nighttime habits, like reading a book or taking a bath. In an ideal situation, it would be best to make sure you’re not looking at any type of screen at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Even cutting your amount of screen time during the day will come to be very beneficial during the night.
3. Sleep Masks
Although you might have shut all your screens away, it can be difficult to avoid the biggest blue light source of all - the sun. This is especially true if you’re trying to sleep during the brightness of the day. Out of all the sleep masks we’ve tried and tested ourselves, we’d 100% go for this stylish 3D Contoured Blackout Sleep Mask.
Not only does the mask seal completely to the face, but its domed design has also been incredibly eyelash-friendly. Say no more to stray beams of light and broken lashes, because this dreamy sleep mask comes as a great solution for both.
4. Set the Scene
Darkness has proven to be very beneficial in promoting sleep because it induces the production of melatonin. The darker the setting, the better your sleep experience will be, which is why we feel that it’s important to really cultivate your perfect sleeping scene. Remove as much artificial light from the space as possible, invest in some good curtains, and get as comfortable as you can. And beware of LED alarm clock screens!
We hope that you enjoyed our look into blue light, what it is, and why it should be best avoided. Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how far the digital world has come in recent years, but raising awareness around the relationship between an increasingly digital lifestyle and physical and mental health remains as important as ever.
Let’s battle blue light sleep deprivation together! Check out our full armoury here: www.sleepsmug.com/collections/blue-light-blocking-glasses
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