Do you or your little ones have trouble getting to sleep at night? The answer may be right before your eyes.
Did you know that there is a secret destroyer of sleep lurking in your household right now? It is all around you and yet you might never suspect it. You can’t hear it. You can’t touch it. But it affects your family’s ability to get or stay asleep nevertheless.
It’s blue light.
Without getting too technical, blue light is the type of light that most closely represents daylight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the way our bodies were built, our internal clock (or circadian rhythm) very much responds to types of light.
Now, while all types of light can have an effect on our sleep - from LED to fluorescent to incandescent light - it is blue light that has the most negative effect on sleep.
Why is that?
Well, melatonin, the hormone that helps to induce sleep, is actually suppressed by blue light, as it most closely mimics daylight. Therefore, blue light can act to encourage your body to stay awake longer than it should.
Conversely, when it starts to get darker, your body is signaled to start producing these sleep hormones to wind your body down toward sleep. This can explain why some people feel more tired in winter months when the days are shorter.
Blue light tends to have the opposite effect. Thus, the reason we say blue light is all around you is that, in today’s modern age, electronics tend to emit this blue light consistently. We also generally use light bulbs that are closer to blue on the color spectrum.
So, what can be done about it?
We have a few practical suggestions that should improve things without going to such extremes as throwing out all your electronics or wearing orange-colored glasses at night!
Instead, try swapping your normal nightlights with orange colored ones. This becomes especially beneficial if you have to take a middle of the night trip to the bathroom, as you can prevent yourself from becoming fully wide awake and thereafter having difficulty in falling asleep.
If you have to use your electronics at night, apply an app to your computer, phone & tablet such as Flux.
Flux is a free software application that will shift your electronics screens to orange as nighttime approaches to protect your sleep cycle from disruptive blue light. It is also a good idea to dim the brightness on your phone or computer when in use in the evenings.
Some phones even have this type of orange light shifting app installed already. You may have noticed that your phone screen seems to get more orange later in the day. This is why.
Another good idea is to start to dim your lighting, turning off harsh overheads and opting for less glaring table top and side lamps. You also might consider switching out not just your nightlights but your bedside table lights for bulbs of a oranger hue.
So, to help you or your kids get to sleep faster, try making these couple of tweaks to your lighting & electronics to help tell your bodies to get ready for lights out.