How does light affect your body?
First a bit of background though! Your body has it’s very own ‘biological clock’ called the Circadian Rhythm, which in other words means all the physical, mental and behavioral changes in our body are based upon a 24 hours cycle, that is influenced both by changes in your body and by external factors – the main one of which is, yes, light! Light acts as a stimulus that prompts your body clock to turn on and off particular genes which control things like your sleeping pattern, hormones, body temperature and various other functions. So light is indeed capable of influencing our sleep-waking cycle: by turning the external lights off or down before bed-time, this will influence your body to initiate the production of melatonin, a hormone makes us want to sleep; on the other hand, if you leave the lights turned on before going to sleep for the evening, melatonin production will be suppressed, leaving you feeling alert and awake.
Blue-toned LED lighting
So, yes, light does impact your sleep. But why the controversy over LED lighting, in particular blue toned LED lighting? It all comes back to the sleep cycle discussed above and how it is affected by external lighting conditions. Your body registers the amount of light in the outside environment through the eyes, and your eyes are especially sensitive to blue-toned light – so the greater the amount of blue toned light in the environment, the more your sleep-waking cycle will be effected. How do LED lights relate to this? LED Lamps emit more blue, cool-toned wavelengths of light than the older incandescent and even fluorescent lights, therefore they have greater potential to interfere with our sleep than any other light source out there. (By the same token though, greater exposure to blue-toned light from your computer or other light sources during the morning hours will help you become more alert and awake).
Do you need to turn off the LED lighting before going to sleep?
The current consensus appears to be that we should turn off our LED lights – including tablet and smartphone screens – at least one hour before going to sleep; this will help us get a better, more unbroken sleep overnight. But what do we do if our overhead and bedside lights are also equipped with LED bulbs? We don’t want to ditch them entirely – after all, the whole reason we switched over to LED bulbs is because of their greater efficiency and longevity compared to older, incandescent and fluorescent lights. We merely need to find a way to not get exposed to as much blue light from them.
Here are a few of the things you can do:
- When buying LED bulbs, choose those that have a warmer color temperature – they produce far fewer blue wavelengths, and are therefore a lot easier on your eyes and sleeping habits
- For your tablet and smartphone devices, try and get a blue light filtering application or program that will put over your screen a red-toned overlay which will make it emit fewer blue light wavelengths.
- For those of you who like to watch television late into the evening hours, look at getting yourself some special TV glasses which have yellow tinted lenses, that again will filter the blue light and limit the amount of it received by your eyes.
Do you tend to suffer through restless nights full of broken sleep? You may have heard the claim that being exposed to too much LED lighting throughout the evening hours – whether it’s from your lamps, television, computer or smartphone screen – negatively impacts your sleep. But is it true? We’re here to separate fact from fiction, myth from reality, and examine what effect LED lights REALLY have on your sleep cycle. Read on to find out! And find more information here.