I wrote an article yesterday about 3 apps that can improve your sleep health and hormone regulation by filtering the screens you look at before sleep. By doing this less blue light emits into your eyes which allows for the Pineal gland to produce and release serotonin and melatonin in a more timely and harmonious manner in accordance with your circadian rhythm, your internal biological clock.
What was really interesting though is that I added a tidbit in the article about orange tint sunglasses that block blue light and how these when used properly (timing is everything) can actually improve sleep quality dramatically. It does so by creating more hormonal balance within the pineal gland allowing you to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.
Health.Harvard.Edu States: “Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.
But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.”
Let’s do a quick exercise. Look at the picture below and think about the colors in the sky, the placement of the colors and how this process of the sky changing color (involving the sun & moon) change each day.
See the orange and blue? Our brain and body are trained to be awake, alert and active when the sky is light blue.
Look at it like this…
(Morning) Blue Skies (Afternoon) Blue Skies (Night) Orange To Black Skies (Morning) Orange -> Blue Skies. The constant eben-flow of the sky changing is wired into our biology.
When it turns darker and the amber orange from the sun begins to set our body begins to release melatonin through the pineal gland. This process is important to your sleep, hormones and overall health.
If you’re using bright white fluorescent or LED lighting at night you are messing with this natural rhythm your body has in place. So what can you do about it though? we don’t live in a world without electricity. White light, television screens, tablets and smartphones all contain blue light which is the spectrum of light that inhibits melatonin release the most. You can avoid technology, bright lights and screens as much as possible at night but if you’re up a minute past sunset then you will still be affected.
So what can you do about this? Harvard Medical School suggests wearing blue-blocking glasses.
“In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light.”
Blue-blocking glasses are glasses that block the blue spectrum lighting. Orange-tint glasses block blue spectrum lighting and they are cheap, about 9 bucks on amazon was the cheapest i’ve found. I’m getting a pair immediately to begin using them myself at night. What you’ll want to do is put these glasses on about 2 hours before you go to bed. Then while you’re in your home with lights and screens present your glasses will block the blue light helping your melatonin release in a more timely manner. By doing this you actually fall asleep an hour sooner and it allows for better rest because when your hormones are on track while sleeping you recover and rejuvenate better.
They’re 9 bucks, so to me it’s worth adding to your night routine before going to sleep. What else can you do to block blue light before going to sleep?
* Use Red/Orange Lighting At Night… Harvard shares that red light has the least power to affect your release of melatonin and circadian rhythm. A red nightlight or this red LED lightbulb on amazon work great. I use himalayan salt lamps in my home at night which is an amber orange light but am seeing how I can work red light into my home now after learning this.
* Wear Blue Blocking (Orange tint) Glasses 2-3 Hours Before Bed. This will help you fall asleep up to an hour earlier and help you get more deep sleep during the night, which is the most valuable rejuvenating sleep.
* Use Less Lights & Screens At Night. Avoid lightbulbs, television, tablet, computer or smartphone screens. The less screens and lights your eyes have to process the more likely you are to keep your melatonin release happy and healthy.
I hope this article inspired you and gave you some ideas to improve your sleep health and hormonal health by making a few very small simple changes in your life and home.
Sources & Images: Wikipedia, Health.Harvard.edu, Amazon.com.