Why it’s important for health, the different options to try + how we personally blue light block at night.
What is blue light + why avoid it at night?
That’s a good question, glad you asked! Here’s a great explanation by BlockBlueLight… “Light is made up of particles that travel as waves of energy. These particles range in both length and strength depending on where they fall in the spectrum. Wavelengths of light are measured in nanometres (nm). Some are visible to the human eye (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet). Others are invisible (infrared and ultraviolet).
Blue light is a colour in the visible light spectrum and falls within the 400-500nm range. As shown in the diagram each wavelength range represents a different colour.
Blue light in the range of 400-450nm, a very short and strong wavelength.
➡️ Blue light exposure at night is impacting our circadian rhythm, sleep, and overall health.
The problem with modern devices, such as phones, LED light bulbs, TVs, and other forms of energy efficient light, is that they put out a large amount of light in the blue spectrum. You can see in the image how various light bulbs have different levels of blue light and how they affect melatonin (the sleep hormone).”
Blue light + melatonin
💊 Whether you (or your kids) take melatonin supplements or not, we all need to understand how melatonin works in the body and how we can ensure it’s cycling naturally and effectively for our sleep and health.
Melatonin, AKA the sleep hormone, is made by the pineal gland in the brain and is responsible for regulating sleep and wakefulness.
After the sun sets, a signal is sent to the brain to start secreting melatonin, which in turn causes sleepiness and eventually sends us into a deep and restful sleep. A natural cycle is a gradual increase into the night then a gradual decline as the sun nears rising. A melatonin supplement provides a quick hit, it can’t mimic the natural and healthy cycle.
Blue and green light ranging from 450-550nm has a direct effect on the the brain’s ability to produce melatonin, a hormone very important for sleep and overall health and wellbeing. Blocking blue light from entering the eyes at night (sunset to sunrise) can repair the natural melatonin cycle in the night and improve sleep quality.
Does that info help you understand melatonin and how blue light effects it?.
Blue light tricks the brain… how rude!
During a chat I had with good friend and smart-as-heck health coach Dave Liow, he explained how artificial blue light tricks the brain into thinking it’s day time when it’s actually night time. Not cool, right?!
💡 Blue light exposure at night suppresses melatonin due to the signals it sends the brain, tricking it into thinking it’s the middle of the day regardless of the actual time. This tricks us into feeling more awake and alert at a time we should be feeling sleepy and restful.
😴 You deserve to have a brain that functions optimally based on what time of day it actually is so you can sleep and feel well! We all do!
Watch the video and at the 2:35-ish mark you’ll hear about how blue light at night tricks the brain into thinking it’s day time.
The obvious + not-so-obvious sources of artificial blue light
We often hear.. “I use a screen filter on my phone at night”, “I have salt lamps on at night”, “I wear blue light blocker glasses while I watch TV at night” and all of these are great if you’re doing these, awesome, but it’s 99.9% likely you’re still getting a whole of blue light in the eyes! Sorry but it’s true.
So what are the blue light sources in your house? Well they’re not just in your house, they’re in the car if you’re driving after sunset, they’re the street lights outside your house at night, they’re everywhere outside but let’s focus on in the home for now..
🏠 💡 Blue light in the home:
– the green, blue, white etc teeny tiny lights on power boards, DVD player and other electrical devices/appliances to show they’re on or on standby
– the strip of light that turns on when some electric glass kettles are boiling water (ours!)
– your TV screen
– smoke and home alarm lights
– your computer/mobile device screens (smartphones, tablets, laptops etc)
– probably every single ceiling light and lamp globe
– digital/LED watch faces
– fish tank lights
– all LEDs
– battery booklights
– torches and flashlights
– some battery operated ‘flameless’ candles
– battery operated kids toys with lights (remote control trucks etc)
– the clock on the microwave
– light coming in through the windows from neighbours, the outside patio light etc
– fairy and other decorative hanging lights in the kids rooms
Unless the light or screen is reddish/dark orange it’s emitting artificial blue light.
How to block blue light at night
There are a few ways to avoid blue light at night and some are just for the eyes while other methods keep it off the skin (both are important – eyes would be the priority).
Wearing amber-lensed glasses that block about 97% blue light from sunset to sleep time then wake time to sunrise is one of the easiest ways to greatly reduce artificial blue light exposure at night. This means you can watch TV, use tech devices, drive, cook etc without blue light entering the eyes.
𝘼𝙢𝙗𝙚𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙜𝙡𝙤𝙗𝙚𝙨/𝙗𝙪𝙡𝙗𝙨
Replacing standard globes with flicker-free good quality red lighting is brilliant but only if there are no other artificial blue light producing devices present.
Salt lamps can be on 24/7 and if they’re dark orange enough can greatly reduce the amount of blue light emitted.
If the eyes are taken care of with glasses, it can help to wear long pants and tops to cover up the skin to block some blue light.
𝙁𝙞𝙧𝙚 + 𝙘𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙡𝙚𝙨
Ideally we should all go to bed after sitting by a fire, without exposure to ANY blue light but that’s near impossible these days, even while camping due to the number of battery operated light sources! If you can work out a way to eliminate all other blue light after sunset to bed time then sitting by the fire or proper candles before bed is fantastic.
Pros + cons of different blue light blocking methods
Here’s an honest summary of the pros and cons we’ve found with the main blue light blocking methods so you can be armed with more info before making choices and buying products.
Wearing good quality 97% blue light blocking glasses sunset to sunrise means you can watch TV, use tech devices, drive, cook etc without blue light entering the eyes. BUT it your skin is still being exposed if the lighting around you is emitting blue light.
Also you have to remember to put them on if you wake up in the night and/or before sunrise.
A good lightweight pair can be comfy but a bulky heavy pair can be really uncomfortable to wear.
They do change the colour of the devices you’re using at night. We get used to it but some kids struggle to get past a yellow game screen!
Cooking chicken at night is challenging as it’s hard to tell if there’s still pink remaining or not. But otherwise they’re fine.
𝘼𝙢𝙗𝙚𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙜𝙡𝙤𝙗𝙚𝙨/𝙗𝙪𝙡𝙗𝙨
Replacing standard globes with flicker-free good quality red lighting is brilliant but needs to be consistent throughout the house in the rooms and areas being used at night time.
Some red globes/bulbs won’t fit or work in older lamps so new lamps may be needed.
The cost to purchase a variety of red globes can be steep but it can be more sustainable if buying one at a time for the main areas in the house.
If not wearing glasses at all though, any unexpected exposure to blue light (getting in the car, walking outside, a neighbours light shining in etc) can ruin the effort.
Some salt lamps are too pale in colour to block enough artificial blue light. But these items also clean the air and create a calming ambience in the room so if they’re dark red enough they can be great.
Rugging up every night to avoid light on the skin isn’t really a realistic option for most of it but can complement other methods.
𝙁𝙞𝙧𝙚 + 𝙘𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙡𝙚𝙨
Well candles have obvious cons and sitting by a fire outside isn’t do-able for everyone, especially without ANY exposure to blue light before bed and sunrise. This is the least likely method unfortunately but any night you can manage it safely is going to be great for your circadian rhythm and sleep
How WE blue light block at night
At about sunset or shortly after we put our HMC glasses on. Clint doesn’t every night because if the footy’s on or he’s working on projects in the garage he doesn’t like having them on, also he gets super sleepy super quickly (he’s the kinda person who can nap at the click of your fingers!) so he sometimes puts them on later, rather than right on sunset. I try to put mine on as early as possible most nights though.
We also turn on a proper flicker-free red globe lamp in the kitchen, from the guys at Block Blue Light, which helps reduce blue light in the room (fish tank LED and tech screens), along with the salt lamp on 24/7 in the lounge room helps greatly reduce blue light in the living area. I’ll often turn the tank light off so it’s almost a total blue-light-free zone at night.
We do need to get a sensor or touch light for the stairs but when we can see easily we just walk upstairs with glasses on to a salt lamp lit area. We shower at night with a salt lamp on in the bathroom (it’s SO relaxing and we can see fine), we go to bed with a salt lamp on each side of the bed to read to. Our phone screens only reduce blue light, they’re fully amber lit so we tend to put glasses on if we need to check phone screens at any time.
I put my glasses on if I wake before sunrise (which I usually do), using the stairs light to see getting downstairs, turn that off and quickly turn the red globe lamp on until the sun rises.
I use an adjustable cord for my glasses because I hate them slipping, Clint’s not too fussed about that but I’ll probably get him one.
If we’re going out or have friends over we don’t wear our glasses. We love that upstairs is all salt lamp lit, it creates such a calming ambiance before sleep and allows us to see easily when we need light to do things.
Any questions on what we do, let us know!
And yes I snuck in that photo of Clint sleeping, I’ll be in trouble when he sees this!
To hire or to purchase yourself some HMC glasses click here
To purchase flicker-free red globes and other blue light blocker products click here (affiliate link)
I hope this information and our perspectives and experiences help you and your family on your journey to better health! Please comment if you have any questions.
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