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How Blue Light Affects Sleep and What to Do about It
We’ve all heard that sleep is important, but as much as you may try to get to bed at a decent hour, many people struggle to actually fall asleep. While a number of factors can contribute to your inability to fall asleep at night, one in particular has become quite prevalent with the increase of technology in our daily lives.
Almost every electronic device that you use, whether that’s a TV, tablet, computer or phone, gives off what’s called blue light. Fluorescent and LED bulbs produce blue light wavelengths which boost attention, reaction times and mood. These purposes are wonderful for the daytime when you want to be alert and productive at work, but not at all helpful when it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.
Our body’s biological clock functions in rhythms that are based on the amount of sunlight and darkness we are exposed to, which is referred to as the circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms control many of our physiological processes such as sleep, feeding patterns, hormone production, cell regeneration and brain activity. Natural sunlight signals our bodies to create more cortisol to help us wake up, whereas an increase of darkness signals for them to start creating sleep hormones, like melatonin. However, research shows that exposure to blue light suppresses your body’s production of melatonin.
Adding artificial light, especially blue light, causes our bodies to no longer understand the time of day and when we should be waking or sleeping. If you find yourself having a lot of trouble calming down and falling asleep at night, one of the causes can be your exposure to blue light during the evening hours. While the best way to avoid your sleep being disturbed by blue light exposure is to avoid screens for a few hours before bed, that’s usually not the answer people want to hear. Luckily, there are a few other ways you can reduce blue light exposure while still enjoying your electronics.
If you have an iPhone, Apple has added in a built-in way to handle blue light by using a warm orange-red filter that changes the color temperature of your screen. All you have to do is turn on “night shift” mode, which can be found in the control panel you see when you swipe up from the bottom of your screen. This feature is also available in many of the newer iPad models, so you can get in your Netflix binges without ruining your sleep.
If it’s your computer that you’re always using late at night, there are several options to create blue light filters. However, a favorite is called Flux, which adapts your screen to the time of day and uses an orange-red filter as the sun begins to set. The filter disappears again in the morning, without you having to do a thing. If you travel to another time zone, Flux will adjust automatically so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
If you prefer using Android devices, there’s another free app called Twilight, which is very similar to Flux but also allows you to adjust hue and intensity, choose to turn on Twilight at all times, or set your own times for the app to turn on and off.
Lastly, if none of these options fit what you want or your devices, you can choose to buy a screen protector that filters blue light from your screen. One of the higher rated options. Tech Armor, works just like a regular screen protector but also helps to block blue light.
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