Do you toss (and turn) for hours at night and perhaps can’t sleep until the wee hours of the morning?
Or you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow but keep waking up throughout the night?
Well, you’re not alone. A lot of folks don’t get enough sleep and feel the negative consequences every day.
See, you can’t focus at work, have foul mood, feeling worn out, you’re throwing tantrums at every juncture, can’t learn anything new,… In short, your days feel like hell.
Now, what you don’t know is that the cause of all these troubles is the artificial blue light that’s in your beloved devices like your office computer and LED lights.
Well, stress may affect your sleep, but it’s not the only cause. Read on to understand the connection between blue light and sleep and how you can reclaim your sleep.
1. Stress May Affect Your Sleep
Many of us at first think that its stress that’s causing our sleep to turn its back on us.
And conventional wisdom says so.
Indeed, according to the fabled American Institute of Stress, a staggering 80% of workers rate their jobs as stressing.
If you ask me, this is not at all surprising, considering the nature of work today.
For example, as an executive, your job’s taxing demands and worries including fearing that you could lose your job result in immense stress.
Having said that, we react to stress differently.
For instance, I personally have had no problems sleeping despite being in stressful positions my entire career- until in recent years.
This got me thinking especially since I didn’t notice any major changes in my reactions to stress.
That’s how I realized that indeed, something was happening in my life…
My continued exposure to artificial blue light had finally caught up with me- and was ruining my sleep.
Here is why.
2. Why Is Blue Light of Digital Devices Ruining Your Sleep? (And Not Stress)
Your sleep loss might not be linked to stress in anyway.
Instead, the monster that may be depriving you of your sleep is blue light.
Before we get deeper, blue light is simply the ‘unhealthy’ light that’s in your smartphone, tablet, TV, LED bulbs, etc.
It looks white, but it’s not and it’s terrible for our sleep.
Since you now understand it better, let’s look at why I am insisting that you need to blame this light spectrum (not stress) for your sleep woes.
2. a) Studies Say That Blue Light Disrupts Your Sleep
According to a study by Harvard University scholars, blue light suppresses your brain’s ability to release melatonin– the sleep-inducing hormone- more powerfully than green light (the other hue that suppresses melatonin).
It also shifts our circadian system or internal clock by 3 hours, which is twice as long as green light (1.5 hours).
US National library of medicine also found that chronically exposing yourself to electrical lighting late in the evening interferes hampers melatonin onset and could potentially impact your sleep.
It’s worth noting that modern-day LED bulbs and fluorescent bulbs use artificial blue light.
Moving on, additional studies have suggested that encountering blue light late in the evening distorts the production of sleep-inducing brain waves later at night.
To make matters worse, it enhances the brain wavelengths associated with mental coordination, an action which makes you become more alert.
That explains why you sometimes suddenly arouse from your sleep feeling super alert (and subsequently take hours before falling asleep again)!
2. b) Executives Spend Most of the Workday Staring at Digital Devices
Your work requires that you constantly gaze at computer screens, iPads, iPhones and similar devices.
Of course, you have an LED TV (at work /home) besides other electronic gadgets like hand-held gaming consoles and LED digital clocks.
As a matter of fact, 90% of Americans often use technology in the hours before bedtime!
We also often carry work home (and continue using our laptops), checking and replying to work-emails, or even chatting with our teams.
In a nutshell, you’re constantly surrounded by harmful artificial blue light and its spoiling your sleep.
2. c) Many Executives Don’t Experience Stress Every Single Day at Work
Although many executives experience stress at work, they don’t experience stress every single day at work. However, they are exposed to blue light for long hours every single day.
Our jobs are not all gloom and there are days you experience joyous moments. For instance, you celebrate after landing a new big client or getting a promotion.
Does that mean that you’ll also sleep like a baby on such days?
Chances are, you may as yet face long sleepless nights because you’re still suffering from the consequences of exposure to the shorter wavelengths from artificial blue light.
Bottom-line? As long as you are subjecting yourself to the detrimental blue light, forget about enjoying a good night’s sleep even when you’re in high spirits.
2. d) Blue Light Negative Effects on Sleep Are Silent
You see, you can easily tell whether you’re distressed.
That’s because stress symptoms such as feeling nervous, tense, anxious, and increased irritability are more conspicuous.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with blue light.
In fact, there is no known scientific method of testing whether your shut-eye difficulties are as a result of blue light.
To cut a long story short, blue light is a silent destroyer.
As you can see, all the factors I have mentioned strongly suggest that the real-trigger of your sleep tribulations isn’t necessarily stress.
It’s, rather, the hard-to-detect blue light.
Luckily, all is not lost, as you will see next.
3. Good News: You Can Still Reclaim Your Sleep!
While our eyes are pretty good at preventing other dangerous lights like UV rays from injuring us, their natural biological setup makes them helpless against blue light.
As a result, these type of light rays effortlessly pierce through and reaches the eye’s light-sensitive retina.
The retina then converts the blue light into neural form and forwards them to our brains for visual recognition, sparking off confusion in our melatonin release timetable.
This is how our sleep issues start.
And so you have to take some precautions to help your eyes lower the harm arising from your continued contact with blue light.
Try the following:
3. a) Unplug From Tech Once Home
Looking at bright screens before bedtime baffles your circadian system (and messes up your natural melatonin release schedule).
To be safe, keep off the TV, computers, tablets, smartphones, and all such devices beginning at least two-three hours to bedtime.
3. b) Use Computer Glasses
We also advise you to wear approved computer glasses (with yellow-tinted or orange lenses) when at work.
These block the rays from penetrating (and wreaking havoc) in your eye and have already been proven to be effective.
For example, one University of Toronto research report concluded that you tend to emit more melatonin when wearing approved computer glasses than when you don’t during night shifts.
These glasses are usually available from your neighboring hardware store or from internet shops for a few bucks.
4. Other Tips to Avoid the Negative Effects of Blue Light on Sleep
The surest way to rediscover your former undisturbed sleep pattern would be to totally stop using any artificial lights rich in the short wave “blue”.
But that’s like daydreaming if you carefully look at our modern lifestyles.
Nevertheless, there are quite several alternative practical ways that could help you.
Let me briefly take you through them:
4. a) Maximize Daylight Exposure
You can permanently fix your sleep struggles by exposing yourself to natural bright light during your day time hours.
A study team at the sleep health journal writes that this helps to calibrate your body’s circadian clock.
Creating time to bask in the morning before you get down to the days business is essentially a win-win since sunlight is also wonderful in easing workplace stress.
But sometimes we spend long hours in our offices making it impossible for you to access direct sunlight.
There is also the question of what you should do during winters.
Well, this is where a therapy lamp comes in.
By simulating natural sunlight, these lamps help you make up for your sunlight deficiencies and could reinstate your biological balance.
4.b) Take Melatonin Supplements
The role of melatonin is to tell your body when its time to sleep. But with blue light exposure, your brain experiences subdued levels of this crucial hormone.
Consequently, you might have to cover this gap to sleep well.
Now, one of the best ways to cancel out this deficit is to consume melatonin supplements.
These supplements have been very beneficial even for busy managers suffering from stress symptoms.
4. c) Tweak Your Lighting
Firelight contains the ‘safe’ yellow and red wavelengths and can save you.
You simply ask your technician to reconfigure your lighting system at home to mimic the firelight.
You can as well install dim red light bulbs at home seeing that studies suggest that they are less disruptive on our circadian pattern. This will keep your blue lights contact to a minimum after work and can promote good sleep.
Furthermore, you can procure smart home lighting solutions which set lights to either turn off at a specific time or gradually, to aid your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle.
Lastly, keep your rooms dark, as much as you can, and your regular bedroom pitch black.
You can achieve this, for example, by not leaving lamps on and getting blackout blinds to diminish outside light.
4. d) Use Anti-Reflective (AR) Lenses
These are lenses which have an additional antireflective (or anti-reflection) coating applied to help minimize the impact of stray lights like blue light on our visual systems.
The AR coating eliminates reflections making your eyeglass lenses appear nearly invisible enabling your colleagues to see your facial gestures more clearly. Moreover, the anti-reflective layer reduces glare so you see well even when driving from work at night.
Over and above that, these also beat back blue light from practically the entire environment, including your TV.
4. e) Use a Blue Light Filter
Technology makers are finally waking up to the reality that blue light could be bad for business as awareness about the trauma exposure to blue light causes skyrockets.
From Windows 10, Apple iOS, macOS, Android, and even Amazon’s Fire tablets, all the dominant operating systems come with a built-in blue light filtering option.
All you need is to activate it in your digital device.
Check for the instructions on the device’s website in case you are facing problems.
What if your gadget doesn’t have the filter?
Well, don’t panic. Simply use the myriad blue light wavelength obstructing tools as you will see next.
5. Specific Tools (Software) To Avoid Blue Light
For your computer (mostly those using order operating systems), download Flux.
It won’t cost you a penny and will adapt your PC’s screen to the actual time of day and then change its hue at sunset thereby becoming easier on your eyes.
And I love that the app is easy to install whether on Windows, Mac, or Linux.
If you’re on Android, Twilight should serve you as greatly as Flux.
It actually gives you more controls over the intensity and hue not to mention that you can set it to be coming on and going off every sunrise/sunset.
Away from software, you may choose to buy a suitable screen protector.
These again wage war on blue light at all times from your screen.
When it comes to deciding the very best, I suggest that you read the reviews left by others online to single out the most ideal screen protector brand.
That’s the end of our epic blue light and sleep discussion.
And as we have seen, since blue light is all around us, the best you can do is to take the protective measures we have highlighted.
In summary, unplug from tech after work, wear reinforced computer glasses, and also activate blue light filters in your gadgets (or download a functional app).
By the same token, put yourself out there in the sun whenever possible and take melatonin supplements.
Also, don’t forget the other helpful recommendations, like installing a screen protector.
This way, you will sleep the whole night and reap all the benefits of a good night’s sleep the following day at work.