Blue light blues

2dd1464f92cdb78ea47525735b5b934d-detailsProlonged exposure to artificial blue light from electronic devices and screens can cause eyestrain, headaches, physical and mental fatigue. Right now as you are reading this post, you are exposed to artificial blue light.

During the day, exposure to blue light – natural or artificial – boosts your mood and keeps you alert. However, after the sun goes down, on-going exposure to artificial blue light can disrupt your sleep. Blue light in the evening tricks your brain into thinking that it’s daytime – it may give you a boost to complete your work, but you may end up having difficulty falling, or staying, asleep.

Studies show that exposure to blue light in the evening suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that is only secreted at night and that enables you to get a good night’s sleep. Without melatonin in your blood stream, you can’t sleep. And, when you’re sleep deprived, even a healthy diet or regular physical exercise may not be enough to turn things around. Melatonin suppression doesn’t only cause poor sleep; it can also increase your risk of disease such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease.

Many people work on their computers in the evenings. Some people work night shifts. Over the years, scientists have been studying the effects of melatonin suppression and have come up with some simple solutions that can help reduce evening or night time exposure to blue light. For example, in your house, the use of dim red evening lights or candles can prevent the suppression of melatonin production. If you work night shifts or if you use the computer in the evening, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or amber goggles.

Because I sometimes work on my computer in the evenings, I’ve installed the f.flux program, which helps reduce my exposure to blue light at night. The program automatically changes the colour of my screen in response to the daylight time zone where I live. During the day, my screen looks like a normal computer screen; however, in the evening, starting at 18:00, it takes on an orange glow. The later I work, the deeper the orange.

It takes a while to adjust to the changed colour of the screen. However, I’ve been using the program for two weeks now and I can already feel the difference in my eyes. I don’t have that burning sensation that I used to have when working late hours on the computer. And so far, I’ve been sleeping fine at night.

If you are having difficulties sleeping after working late hours on your computer, I recommend that you try this free program. See how it works for you. You can disable the setting at any time you want to and your screen will revert to its original colour.

Ultimately, the best solution is to reduce your exposure to blue light as much as possible in the evening. However, a program such as f.lux might be a good alternative for you. And, today, as I write this post, (24 October 2015) just happens to be the last day of Daylight Saving Time before many countries switch back to Standard Time. So, if you happen to be in one of those countries where the clocks will be turned back, you can enjoy an extra hour of sleep!

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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

3 thoughts on “Blue light blues

    1. Thanks for your comment and likewise, great article you have on the blue light topic. Love how and where you discovered those Edi & Watson blue light glasses – in a café in Paris whilst sipping a regular café crème. Fantastic!

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