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Hang tight with this one, blue light is a very science based topic, but fascinating knowledge to keep with you during your daily #adulting activities nonetheless. Eating healthy and exercising only goes so far for your health. You might be doing really well with these two parts of your life, but how do you top it off and live optimally? Let me know in the comments if I should be wearing a tin foil hat.
Humans can see visible light, a small part of the light spectrum. Other parts of the light spectrum that we cannot see are radio waves, electromagnetic waves, microwaves, and gamma rays. If we could we would likely approach electronics and appliances a bit different.
Now there is a difference between the natural blue light of the sun and the artificial blue light emitted from our electronics. Sunlight has all colors of the spectrum. When we soak up the (full spectrum) sunlight it helps our natural circadian rhythm. (Of course make your own judgement to wear sunscreen, protect yourself!)
Blue and Red
The most common blue light that we interact with is the emission of light from electronics. It can certainly affect your brain and mental health. One of the easiest ways to protect your eyes from this is a gem of a product called Iris. It has several options to select from based on what you are using your device for.
“Old observations such as Warburg’s, that visible light can restore the activity of the “respiratory pigments,” showed without doubt that visible light is biochemically active. By the 1960s, several studies had been published showing the inhibition of respiratory enzymes by blue light, and their activation by red light.”
-Raymond Peat PhD
What the heck does that mean?
Respiratory Enzymes: an enzyme that transfers electrons to molecular oxygen in cellular respiration.
Basically it assists with proper cellular function. If this is not carried out optimally, then of course the body will scream at you with symptoms.
Thus blue light inhibits this function and red light activates this function. Well Hot Coffee!
Ever wonder why you’re on your phone or TV before bed and it is SO difficult to fall asleep? Blue light.
“The nocturnal/stress hormones, especially prolactin and melatonin, make the retina more sensitive to light, and more easily damaged. (It’s too much darkness that sets up the problem, since the eyes will adapt to excess light, but darkness increases their sensitivity.)”
-Raymond Peat PhD
To reduce these affects, limit screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime. Try reading some books or listening to music instead.
The most common blue light that we interact with is the emission of light from electronics. However, another source of blue light is the sun. The sunlight has a full spectrum, but during winters, lack of that full spectrum (when the days get shorter) and more time inside, being exposed to blue light with TV and electronics increases significantly.
Believe it or not a lack of the right kind of light can be harmful to the body and mind. It can actually significantly increase stress. This is often why we feel depressed during winters, catch a bug, or get poor sleep.
What is it about light and darkness that has such an effect on us?
It affects our rhythms, mood, and ultimately hormones.
“Generally, humans enjoy the energizing warmth of the sun, the light it provides, and how it make us feel. Light exposure and warmer temperatures support metabolism, mood, ando optimal body temperature maintenance. Because of improved cellular energy production, our capacity to handle stress improves in relation to our explosure to light.”
-Functional Performance Systems
On the other hand, extended exposure to darkness is stressful as it slows energy production. It makes sense why winters can be so tough.
In order to protect yourself from harmful blue light and excessive darkness here are a few things to try:
Go to bed earlier when the sun goes down.
Wake up earlier when the sun comes up.
Wear protective blue light blocking glasses or lenses when you use electronics. You can find stylish ones online, but many are not 100% blue light blocking. It can be even more beneficial to reduce the blue light at it’s source by a program like Iris.
At bedtime, ensure there is no light in the room.
During the mid day try bright light therapy, specifically red light therapy.
Use an eye protection software on your computer or phone such as Iris.
“Red light is protective, blue light (or u.v.) is harmful, so wearing orange lenses would be helpful.”
-Raymond Peat PhD
Consult a certified medical professional in regards to your health or any lifestyle changes.