We bring our digital devices everywhere, and I mean, everywhere.
But is our constant scrolling really that harmful?
In moderation, blue light can be extra beneficial to our energy, alertness, mood and overall health. However, according to Harvard Health Letter, research shows that overstimulation from blue light impacts sleep and may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Breaking down blue light:
1. What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths.
2. Where is blue light?
Blue light can be found in natural sunlight. However, because of its low cost and high efficiency, blue light can also be found in nearly all digital devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, clocks, tv’s and more.
3. What’s the problem with blue light?
In natural sunlight, blue and red light are always present together however, when blue light is emitted without red light, like in digital devices, it wreaks havoc on our health, especially our sleep. Why? Because our bodies weren’t made for round-the-clock blue light.
How does blue light impact sleep?
1. Circadian Rhythm
Overstimulation due to blue light, significantly impacts sleep and alters our circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle, because it tricks the body into believing it’s daytime when it’s not. This causes a delay in the body’s internal clock and decreases our highest quality sleep, REM.
2. Hormone Production
High amounts of exposure to blue light also impacts the production of essential hormones, like melatonin and leptin, that signal our body to wind down. Disrupting these hormones causes an increase in cortisol which can lead to insomnia. This increase also triggers the appetite, resulting in late night snacking, which can ultimately lead to significant weight gain and even heart disease.
3. Eye Health
Blue light can kill photoreceptor cells inside the eye which are responsible for converting light into signals that stimulate biological processes. Damage to these cells causes macular degeneration, which occurs when photoreceptor cells in the retina die. Our risk of this type of damage increases as we age and expose ourselves to more blue light.
What are some ways to limit exposure?
- No digital devices two hours before bedtime.
- Take digital devices out of the bedroom and purchase an alarm clock with gradual glowing light.
- Opt for light dimmers or replace bulbs with blue-light free alternatives like these.
- Protect your eyes with a pair of blue-light blocking glasses.
- Use blue light screen protectors on your tablet, laptop and phone.
- Incorporate melatonin into your nightly routine.
- Get outside for natural light.
- Reset your circadian rhythm with a (device-free) weekend camping trip.
Digital detox doesn’t have to be brutal. One of my favorite ways to recharge is connecting with nature and camping is a great way to do this. Waking with the sun and winding down with the moon, naturally resets the body.
So enjoy the outdoors this summer, reset your sleep cycle and recharge for what’s ahead—your mind and body will thank you!