Your Lights Are Ruining Your Sleep

Not getting enough sleep? Blame the blue light.

With one out of three adults in the U.S. being considered sleep deprived, the Center for Disease Control has dubbed insufficient sleep a public health epidemic.

While people have trouble sleeping for a variety of different reasons (stress, anxiety, health issues), another factor interrupting your sleep cycle may be something as ubiquitous as light.

Harvard research has found, “Blue wavelengths — which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood — seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.” In other words, if you feel like truly restful sleep is becoming harder to achieve, it may be due to the blue wavelengths, otherwise known as blue light, created by those Instagram holes you dive down at 11:30 PM or your recently installed LED lights.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Eckermann

Worse, not only does exposure to blue light in the evening result in a poor night’s sleep, but numerous studies have also found that blue light at night is linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Blue Light

Blue light is a type of visible light emitted by the sun. Blue rays combined with red, orange, yellow, and green rays make up the spectrum of colored light rays to create what we call “white light” or sunlight.

Photo Credit: Luxexcel Group

Blue light has the shortest wavelengths and highest energy, meaning it is very bright and very energizing, causing it to suppress melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. This is beneficial in the morning as it wakes you up, but counterproductive in the evenings when trying to go to bed. Luckily, as the sun sets, the light it emits transitions from blue to warm yellow/red, which naturally notifies your body to start producing melatonin and prepare for sleep.

Photo Credit: LED Trail

Unlike the sun, digital screens, electronic devices, and fluorescent and LED lighting continue emitting blue light, no matter what time of day it is.

As Medical Daily has put it, “Blue light emission at night manipulates the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, leading the brain to believe it’s daylight, or time for wakefulness.” Thus, keeping you up past your bedtime.

Night Shift For Your Phone

As these health effects come to light, science-based technology solutions are being created. Apple users in particular are seeing the promotion of healthy lighting habits appear in the form of Night Shift, a setting on the iPhone that transitions the phone screen from a bright white/blue light to a warm yellow light as soon as the sun goes down. A similar product you may be familiar with is f.lux, a software that adapts your computer’s display light to the time of day — white/blue during the day and yellow at night.

Apple’s Night Shift.

Night Shift and f.lux are providing better solutions for our devices, but what about all those energy efficient light bulbs we put in our homes in hopes of saving the planet?

Adaptive Lighting For Your Home

LED light bulbs are an appealing lighting option because not only do they require 85% less energy to produce the same amount of light as an incandescent, but they can also last 12–15 years longer before needing to be replaced, making them better for the environment and your wallet. Unfortunately, the problem we are now facing is that the blue light from LEDs is detrimental to your health when you’re exposed to it in the evening. Adaptive lighting solves this so your body and home are in tune with nature’s clock.

Adaptive lighting is like Night Shift for your home. As the sun goes down, lights that were once white and energizing automatically transition to warm yellow light that helps you ease naturally into your sleep cycle, so you can get the snooze you deserve. While Apple and f.lux are blanketing your electronics in natural light, Twist is blanketing your home in it.

As technology evolves to help us thrive, don’t you think our light bulbs should too?

Like what you read? Give Shaun Springer a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.