By Silvia Yeomans, Queen Spectacle
When the body is exposed to the natural light of the sun, the brain sets its sleep patterns according to when it is light outside and to when it is dark. Light is detected by the retina, which sends signals to the brain. When it starts getting dark outside, the brain signals the body to start creating it’s sleep hormone melatonin and to start dropping the body temperature to prepare for sleep. In the morning, when light is sensed, the body understands it needs to warm up and to produce hormones, like cortisol, that wake the body up.
When artificial light and blue light are added to our day (with electronic devices and screens) our body’s natural patterns become confused. The retina can now receive light no matter what time of day it is, so the body doesn’t know when to get ready for sleep. That’s great if you are trying to stay productive and alert throughout the day, but the body needs to know when to start winding down. As a result, the body slows down its production of melatonin.
Blue light is outside as well. We are exposed to even more blue light outdoors than indoors. The intensity of harmful blue light outdoors is 100-500 times greater than with digital devices.
After all that are you ready to get back to sleeping?
Try dimming the lights and limiting your time in front of your devices one to two hours before bedtime. This will give your body the opportunity to produce melatonin.
Try changing the setting on your devices to “night shift”. This automatically adjusts your display to dim itself and give off less blue light. You can manually set it to begin earlier too.
Talk to your optician about blue light filtered lenses. There are a few different variations. Some lenses have little-to-no tint and can help to minimize the direct blue light exposure that you get indoors and ones that are available as sunglasses to block the harmful blue light outdoors.