How Blue Lights Affect You and What You Can Choose to Do about it
There was a time when the sun going down meant no more light. Living beings would bask under the stars and wait for the sun to show up for its next shift. However, homoerectus, the species some like to call the ancient man is known for being well versed in the language of fire. Since then, we have developed candles, light bulbs, television, phones, tablets and even watches that emit light.
In recent years, I’ve been made aware of the harmful effects the presence of blue light can have on us. Having said that, we need to delve into the history of blue light and it’s effects on human physiology.
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WHY IS THE SKY BLUE?
It seems like an asinine question, or maybe something a child would ask. Nonetheless, it’s a vital piece of information that easily sheds light on our progress and nature as human beings.
The light from the sun is made up of all the colors in the rainbow. As you might already know, all colors vibrate on different wavelengths. For example, blue light travel in short, choppy waves. Whereas, red light travels in long, “lazy” waves.
Sunlight reaches Earth’s atmosphere and is scattered in all directions by all the gases and particles in the air. Blue light is scattered in all directions by the tiny molecules of air in Earth’s atmosphere. Blue is scattered more than other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves. This is why we see a blue sky most of the time. (cc: nasa)
BLUE LIGHT AND HUMAN EVOLUTION
The sky plays a big part in our evolution and the color blue is the reason why. In the morning, the light we are naturally exposed to is a hue of blue until later in the afternoon. During what photographers, call the golden hour, we can clearly see the sky light shift from blue to a more golden hue. That’s the way it remains until the sun goes down and the sky is filled with stars.
This natural pace commands what we call our circadian rhythm. It is regulated by our pineal gland which creates melatonin during 12 hours of the day. Melatonin is not only a sleep hormone but it is also a powerful antioxidant. It has even been proven to suppress the growth of cancerous tissues.
A study showed that nurses who work the night shift have an increased rate of breast cancer compared to the those who ONLY work the day shift.
BLUE LIGHTS AND THEIR EFFECTS
When artificial sources of light were first created, they weren’t harmful to us. The first source, fire, emits a reddish/amber light which allows us to benefit from light passed sun down without affecting our sleep cycle. The absence of blue light is needed to properly nourish our pineal gland.
Most of the lights we currently use have been designed lazily. Designers have attempted to mimic sunlight, without thinking about when/where these lights would be used. Digital screens are another ball game. The typical tv, phone, tablet and even smart watch is made up of 3 LED’s (red, green and blue). These colors are adjusted to present a white looking background to the human eye.
Most light bulbs as well as our digital screens, emit a bluish/violet light which keeps our pineal gland “on”. This can not only make us more susceptible to cancer in the long run but also causes daily hurdles in our lives.
Blue is one of the shortest, highest energy wavelengths which makes it flicker more easily and longer than colors with longer wavelengths (like red). This flickering creates a glare that reduces visual contrast and can affect sharpness and clarity. Scientist give this as an explanation for headaches, eye strains, mental fatigue and other symptoms that are synonymous with spending long periods of time in front of a digital screen.
With all that being said, I don’t want you to see blue lights as something harmful. It isn’t. When they’re used properly. At the right time, it can even be extremely beneficial. For years, researchers have been experimenting with artificial blue lights as a tool to cure seasonal affective mood disorder.
Blue light can wake you up and give you an extreme sense of awareness. Try it. When you wake up in the morning, expose yourself to direct sunlight as soon as you can. This can drive away morning fatigue and boost alertness.
INFORMED ACTIONS A.K.A “SOUL-UTIONS”
There’s many things you can do to remedy or tend to the current situation. I’ve listed them from least likely to be used to most
STEP 1: DE-DOMESTICATING YOUR INDOOR LIGHT SOURCES
Your indoor lights are probably emitting blue light. Which means that a well intentioned night of late night studying can turn into an all nighter and a failed test. Candles are great as a source of artificial light, especially if they smell good .
BEWARE: Not all candles emit the same wavelength of light and some of them could even be toxifying your air.
The most effective candle lighting source would be a beeswax candle. It emits a peculiar hue of soothing amber light and has a great scent
STEP 2: GLASSES
Blue blocking glasses are great. They’re usually tinted orange, like Bono’s and protect you from blue lights in all your environment. Unfortunately, most of them are ugly as fuck and most people wouldn’t wanna wear them.
STEP 3: ZEN TECH FILTERS
These filters, made by Dave Asprey from Bulletproof and Bulletproof radio are a great addition to your laptop, tablet or phone screen. They block the blue light from your screen and double as a screen protector.
DO THIS IMMEDIATELY. IT’S FUCKING EASY AND YOU NEED IT.
STEP 4: NIGHT MODE/NIGHT SHIFT/FLUX
The iPhone now has an option called night shift where you can turn your screen to a more orange-ish background color to block more of the blue. Android calls it’s option night mode.
This app syncs itself to the sun in your location and ultimately makes your screen follow your circadian rhythm.
STEP 5: SAFARI // READING OPTION + TWITTER NIGHT MODE
More and more apps today are coming out with their own in app way to make the night time experience less harmful to the user. On the mobile safari browser, when you’re reading a text/article, you’re given the option to go into reading more. In that mode, you can change the background color of your text, the font of the text itself and increase/decrease its size.
STEP 6: LINK THIS ARTICLE TO YOUR LOVED ONE
STEP 7: SEND THIS ARTICLE TO AN APP YOU’D LIKE A NIGHT FEATURE FOR
I believe that as awareness continues to grow, we will not see more night modes for electronic apps and screens popping out. One day soon, we might also experience lights that are aligned with our circadian rhythm. That would be fucking tight, healthy and super futuristic.
Hope you learned something and enjoyed the read. Feel free to give me any feedback, through twitter DM’s @thefreedumb or email at email@example.com