April 30, 2021
So, you’re finished with another long day at work, or at school. You’ve eaten your dinner, and now you’re ready to wind down for the evening before tucking yourself – and maybe your children – into bed. Does that ring a bell? Does it sound much like your evening routine? If so, how do you typically fill those hours between dinner and snuggling into your pillow? Most of us continue down a common path, and it’s one that has potential to substantially diminish our overall health.
We don’t think enough about monitoring our light exposure.
Back in the day, we didn’t need to worry about restricting the amount of light we encounter. People awoke when the sun came up, and used warm, friendly (and somewhat dim) candle and lamp light for a couple of hours before hitting the hay. But in today’s 24/7 world, we find ourselves constantly surrounded by light, and we aren’t always the most informed consumers. Both the amount of light we’re exposed to – and when it happens – are important to our health. Light can undermine our ability to sleep, and the most powerful offender is blue light. Blue light is the shortest wavelength of light on the visible light spectrum. Not all blue light has damaging effects. Sunlight contains blue light, along with other types of light. During the day, blue light can boost your mood, boosts alertness and help with cognitive function.
However, most of us are exposed to more blue light than we need, and often during the time it’s more likely to negatively affect your sleep. What is the major source of all this night-time blue light? The most common offenders are electronic screens, but don’t forget about environmental lighting, including the newer energy efficient lights in our own homes and in public areas.
Studies show blue light limits your body’s production of melatonin; a hormone that helps regulate the circadian rhythms that produce the urge for sleep. Blue light suppresses melatonin production for twice as long as other visible light and disrupts circadian rhythms by twice the degree. Room light from high-efficiency light sources using blue light will also suppress melatonin production.
While blue light reduces the amount of melatonin your system produces, it also stimulates the production of cortisol, a major stress and alertness hormone. Taking in more blue light than we need shortens sleep time and can cause you to wake up more frequently, resulting in less refreshing sleep and increased fatigue the next day. There’s a link between blue light exposure and heightened risk for certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. There’s also news of a connection between blue light exposure and obesity, as well as to diabetes. Some of the latest research on modern sleep shows that blue light may cause unique damage to the cells of our eyes. If you ask your optometrist, she’ll tell you that poor sleep itself can contribute to other problems with vision as well.
Overexposure to blue light can affect children as well. Kids have become heavy screen users, sometimes logging in more hours than their parents. Research shows that children’s exposure to blue light at night causes their bodies to react in ways that can have devastating effects on their health.
Limiting screen time can reduce and control light exposure, but for most of us, it’s hard to do. Most people have the TV, lights, cell phones, tablets and other digital screens going full blast from the minute the last dish is washed until they turn out the lights for bed. That’s why it’s time to think about blue light glasses. Scientists have created lenses that filter out blue light, which help us protect our sleep by maintaining our circadian rhythms. They also reduce the eye strain and potential eye damage that comes from overexposure to blue light. Unlike filters you purchase for your laptops or hand-held devices, these glasses can be used anywhere and at any time, so you can limit your exposure to blue light while watching your favorite shows, reading the latest bestseller on your Kindle or catching up on Facebook.
Ask your eye doctor about the growing body of research demonstrating that blue light blocking glasses can be highly effective for filtering blue light and restoring healthy sleep and biorhythms. Investing in a pair of blue light glasses to wear while you’re in front of your screens at night can help limit insomnia, maximize the duration and quality of your sleep and help restore natural circadian rhythms. You could also notice improvement in cognitive performance, including memory and learning, and how quickly your brain processes information.
At Pro-Optix Eye Care, the premier Houston family optometrists, we have the ideal blue light glasses for every member of your family – whether you’re looking for a sturdy pair for your wild child, a neutral look at a value price or designer frames for your oh-so-chic teen. And don’t forget to schedule your annual vision exam as well – with the proper vision test you’ll know if you need prescription or non-prescription blue light glasses. Don’t count sheep - call 713-360-7095 to help save your sleep!
© 2021 Pro Optix Eye Care. All Rights Reserved