Blue Light Blockers: Should You Invest in This New Trend?
Another exceptionally popular trend amongst the fitness industry is the use of blue light blockers. However, are they a beneficial tool to improve health? Or are they just an over-glorified accessory being needlessly marketed for those in a position of influence to make money?
What is blue light?
To fully understand if blue light blockers are necessary, we must first understand the mechanics of what exactly they are blocking and how it affects our health.
Although it is environmentally friendly, blue light can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease. Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Blue light during the day can be exceptionally beneficial as it has been shown to boost attention, reaction times, and mood.
Although during the evening this form of light can be exceptionally disruptive, meaning it is important to keep exposure time to a minimum, however, this is being made increasingly difficult due to the proliferation of electronic devices and screens.
Exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms. Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. This in turn makes it harder to fall asleep and can detriment sleep quality.
Harvard researchers and their colleagues experimented comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).
Due to influxes in blue light during the evening, the body tends to stay in a less sympathetic state and more prepared for activity, whether that be mental or physical. This is why many people who use their phone in bed or just before they sleep struggle to become sleepy or nod off quickly.
Do I need blue light blockers?
If you struggle with maintaining a healthy sleep pattern or are having low quality sleep, blue light blockers are a feasible option to consider and are relatively cost effective (around £30), it would also be advisable to consider the following steps to improving sleep:
- Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light is less likely to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
- Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
- Take advantage of your phone’s ‘Night Mode’, which alters your screen lighting from blue to a warm yellow light.
- Sleep in a colder, air-conditioned room
- Consider blackout blinds/curtains
- Consider turning your devices onto night mode or applying the blue light filter option when working during the evening
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
By Tireoghain O’Neill