The Dark Side of Blue Light

The average American spends 11 hours in front of a screen. Whether it’s your phone or laptop or television, we’re increasingly glued to our screens these days. Research has shown that blue light from screens, especially at night time, has a negative effect on health.

Although studies haven’t conclusively proven the reason for the negative effects, research has shown that exposure to blue light from screens leads to an increased risk for a litany of health problems including breast cancer, diabetes, increased risk of depression and cardiovascular diseases. Scientists have theorized that the cause for this might have something to do with the fact that exposure to bright light at night time messes up our circadian rhythms.

Circadian rhythms are our internal clocks. Before the industrial age, humans woke with rise of the sun and slept at sun set. But access to lights allow us stay up later into the night. Additionally, light also suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm. Light of any kind can affect the circadian rhythm, but blue light has been shown to be more powerful.

Here are a few ways to reduce your exposure to blue light:
  1. Avoid watching TV or using your laptop or phone after 8 pm. This will help your body naturally prepare for sleep.
  2. Use red lights in the evening. Red lights have the least effect on the circadian rhythm.
  3. If you do need to use your laptop in the evenings, consider installing an app to control the brightness of your screen. F.lux is a great app that automatically controls the brightness of your computer screen based on the time of the day.
[Featured image by Flickr user macblack]