If you have problems falling asleep, have you ever thought the type of light you are exposed to during the evening might be part of the problem? Just making a couple simple changes could bring a big improvement.
Our brain, body, and eyes are made such that during the daytime, when we are exposed to more sunlight and less artificial light, we feel more awake. Part of the reason we feel more alert is that the rays of sunlight contain more blue light frequencies, which suppresses the secretion of our hormone melatonin.
Then after sunset, when our blue light exposure should naturally be less, your body secretes more melatonin—a hormone that makes us sleepy. But since the invention of the artificial lights—and now much worse since the invention of computer, tablet, and cellular screens—many of us are still getting lots of blue light exposure at night. So our bodies are not producing as much melatonin at nighttime, so we still may be in a state of alertness when we try to fall asleep.
Look at the lighting that fills many people’s living rooms and bedrooms: a cold, bright snail-like bulb. Maybe it’s saving energy, but the light it emits may be keeping you awake. You could change to an energy-saving yellow bulb, which could make a big difference.
And are you using your computer in the hours before bedtime, or reading with a tablet or cellphone before you try to sleep? Again, your brain is receiving a huge amount of blue light, telling your body to stay alert.
1) Switch from a cold, white lamp color to yellow, and keep the intensity lower rather than higher.
2) Ideally, stop using any digital devices for 2 hours before you want to go to sleep. Your body normally starts to secrete more melatonin 2 hours before bedtime, so this should help significantly.
3) Use a smaller screen. The smaller the screen, the less blue light exposure.
4) Turn down the screen brightness. Keep it farther from your eyes if possible, and use for a shorter period of time.
5) Use orange or amber-colored glasses in the evening when using devices. This may sound crazy, but there is good research supporting this approach. Just published in the Journal of Adolescent Health is a Swiss study, which measured melatonin levels in healthy adolescents. The students wore orange (“blue-blocking”) glasses for a week at nighttime when using their devices, then one week used clear glasses. The results (also seen in previous studies), showed significant improvements in melatonin and sleepiness levels with the use of the orange tinted lenses.
6) Try software for your computer, tablet, or cellphone which decrease the blue light emitted from your screen. Check out f.lux (PC and Mac computers and iOS devices), Twilight (Android), and NightFilter (Android).
7) Get out more during the day. Blue light is not bad for you—it is good for your body, during the daytime that is. It seems the more sunlight and blue light you are exposed to during the daytime, the healthier will be your internal body clock, and the easier it will be to fall asleep.
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