Steve Smith talks about the dark flipside of blue light, and how modern lighting and technology is making it harder and harder to sleep, leading potentially to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Episode #6-20 released on February 1, 2016
We are 2016, and technology has expanded from our desktops to our pockets. Most of us have smart phones, tablets, computers, laptops, flat screen televisions, energy-efficient light bulbs, and several other kinds of devices that produce more than 8-lux of light. This is potentially causing a problem for those of us that are heavily into technology, especially in the hours before we go to bed.
Light, and more specifically blue light, is perfectly necessarily for our alertness, cognition, and suppress the production of Melatonin. Melatonin being the hormone we secrete to make us sleep. We typically got all of our light from the sun, and until the advert of fire was the only way we suppressed Melatonin, which allowed us to sleep most of the night through. However, because of fire, then artificial lighting, mankind has been shifting into a 24-hour operation cycle. And with technology being everywhere, we are exposed to wavelengths of light that are preventing us from producing Melatonin. This is wreaking havoc with our circadian rhythms making it harder and harder for us to sleep, and more importantly, experiencing deep beneficial sleep.
The worst culprit is blue light, but don't breathe any sigh of relief, all light has an effect on our circadian rhythm and our production of Melatonin. While green light will only affect Melatonin production with half the duration of blue light, collectively speaking the damage will occur and we will still suffer negative consequences related to over-exposer to light itself. However, as we can no longer prevent exposer to virtually all wavelengths of light, the best we can hope is to quite literally avoid the blue wavelength as much as possible, and there are several choice methods you can employ to do so.
If color accuracy is not an issue, then consider using computer monitors with blue filters, like those offered by Asus, which allows you to selectively reduce the amount of blue light being emitted by the monitor. Consider wearing orange glasses, as that filters out blue light, or wear specialized glasses that don't let blue light pass through, though that may cost roughly eighty dollars or more. On tablets and laptops, you can also stick a blue light. Mobile phones can, also, have a blue light filter applied, but applications can also be tried that reduce the amount of blue light that is being generated by the panel. And, as discovered those with iPhones that support iOS 9, will receive built-in functionality as of iOS 9.3, currently in beta, which should help as well. If you need a nightlight, consider using a dim red light, as any other color will contribute to the suppression of Melatonin, but red seems to have the less effect in this area.
Other less likely to happen suggestion, and we can all agree to this, is to stop using mobile devices, computers, tablets, TV, etc. 2 to 3 hours before going to bed, remembering that even an 8-lux intensity lamp will affect the production of Melatonin required to go to sleep. Even if we resorted to using a tablet with e-ink and a low intensity lamp with very little blue light, and blue filtering glasses, the effect would still be there, and we may end up turning up the lamp because of the loss of light intensity to see the e-ink screen.
It is, also, pointed out by Harvard Medical the other symptoms that can be linked to Blue light, night life, and lower Melatonin secretion are cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. However, the connection can also be made to match for longer lives, poor diets, poor exercise habits, changes in the ways that we sleep, and the extended lifespan we now have due to medical advancements.
Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions