Blue Light and Circadian Rhythms

Blue Light and Circadian Rhythms

Woman stretching her arms as she wakes up in bed

Blue light is all around us. From the sun’s natural rays, to the artificial overhead lights at the office, to the digital screens that we spend hours scrolling, it is unavoidable. If you have read our blog Blue Light and Your Eyes, you already know that prolonged exposure to blue light can lead to sleep imbalance. In this blog, we’ll discuss how blue light affects our circadian rhythms, and what you can do to minimize the effects. 

What is Blue Light?

The term “blue light” refers to a range of light on the color spectrum that is visible to the human eye, specifically from 380-500 nanometers. It is also known as High Energy Visible light (HEV). The greatest source of blue light comes from the sun, but it is also produced by artificial sources such as fluorescent lights, LEDs, and computer, phone, and tablet screens.

What are Circadian Rhythms?

According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark and affect most living things, including animals, plants, and microbes. Your circadian rhythms help to regulate feelings of tiredness in the evening and wakefulness during the day. In addition to this effect, circadian rhythms influence functions such as the metabolic process and the release of hormones such as melatonin. 

How does Blue Light affect Circadian Rhythm?

Natural blue light from the sun encourages our bodies to feel awake during the day and sleep at night. But when we look at blue light at night, it can confuse our bodies, making us feel awake when we should be tired. According to the NIGMS, this can cause sleep disorders, and may lead to other chronic health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. 

What can I do?

There are several ways you can help to regulate the amount of blue light that enters your eyes:

  • Wear blue light filtering glasses when using electronic devices such as computers,  phones, and tablets to minimize blue light exposure, especially at night.
  • Use blue light filtering screens or apps on your devices
  • Avoid using blue light devices in the evening, specifically 2-3 hours before bed.
  • Wear sunglasses when it is bright in the evenings, especially during the summer in Alaska
  • Use blackout curtains over your windows in the summer to minimize daylight during sleeping hours
  • Use red light bulbs in your bedroom. Red light does not affect circadian rhythm.

Limiting your exposure to blue light may have several benefits, including reducing eye fatigue and improving sleep. To learn more about blue light filtering eyewear, schedule an appointment with an optician by calling or texting (907) 328-2920. For more information about blue light and your eyes, visit  www.mountainvieweyes.com/blog

References:

National Institute of General Medical Sciences, “Circadian Rhythms,” https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Pages/circadian-rhythms.aspx

Written by: Gina Stafford, COA, LDO, ABOC

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Posted in: Blue Light

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