Everyone’s body is controlled by a biological clock. This clocks operates on a 24-hour schedule, known as your circadian rhythm and is crucial to maintaining optimal health. Unfortunately, we frequently make lifestyle choices which disrupt our own circadian rhythm. Perhaps the biggest disruptor: blue light.
Electronic devices and much of the inside lighting we use in our homes and offices emit high-intensity blue light. This is fine during the middle of the day when you are trying to stay alert, but is not so good when you are winding down at the end of the day.
Your biological clock starts to prepare your body for sleep once the sun sets. The lower light increases melatonin, the sleep hormone. Unfortunately, blue light suppresses melatonin which keeps your brain in an alert state – not exactly supportive of sleep and recovery.
Fortunately, you can fight technology with technology. The key is to reduce or eliminate blue light. Examples of technology which can help reduce blue light and improve sleep onset and quality include the following:
Blue blocking filters are available for almost any computer, tablet, and smartphone. The filters merely adhere to the screen of the device and will eliminate most if not all of the blue light emitted by the device.
Apple iOS (Night Shift) and Android (Night Light) allow you to set a schedule for reducing the amount of blue light the device emits. Similarly, some computers support the application f.lux which also reduces blue light according to a schedule.
You can use special bulbs to reduce or eliminate blue light. Two examples of bulbs which reduce or eliminate blue light are the Philips Hue and the Lighting Science GoodNight Biological LED Lamp. One combination which works well is to use Philips Hue bulbs throughout your house so you can alternate between night and day use and then the GoodNight bulbs for your bedside lights.
Blue Blocking glasses such as the Swanwick Sleep Swannies are scientifically backed and are a great adjunct to other blue blocking technologies. They are reasonably stylish and will block any lingering blue light from electronic devices and most home lighting.
If you’re having trouble getting a complete night’s rest, start with one or a few of these hacks, and you can find yourself falling asleep faster. Over time, you’ll improve the quality of your rest.
And if you want to get some objective metrics related to your sleep and your sleep quality, have a look at the Oura ring – a wearable sleep tracker that tracks metrics such as how long it took you to fall asleep and the duration and quality of your night’s sleep. You might find out that blue blocking glasses, for example, really do increase the amount of deep sleep you get each night and that you should keep wearing them.
Sleep metrics in the Oura app