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The Harmful Side of Blue Light Exposure

How to protect yourself and optimize your health & wellbeing.


Unless you’re an off the grid wilderness-loving recluse, there is a good chance you’re exposed to excessive amounts of blue light all day, every day. Blue light is a high energy light that is around us everywhere. It’s emitted from the sun, TV, smartphone, indoor and outdoor artificial lighting, computer screens, the fridge, car headlights, microwaves - the list goes on and on.


WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT


Light is made up of particles that travel in waves, measured in nanometers (nm), which emit different amounts of energy. Each wavelength range is a different color. Light rays on the red end of the visible spectrum have relatively long wavelengths and contain less energy. Light rays on the blue end of the spectrum have short wavelengths and contain more energy. Blue light is found at the very beginning of the visible light spectrum and ranges from 400-495nm.


graph of visible and invisible light spectrum

BLUE LIGHT FROM THE SUN IS ESSENTIAL


Blue light from the sun is essential to maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm - the master biological clock located in our brain, as well as every cell of our body, that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours.


Exposure to natural blue light has proven to boost alertness, help with memory and cognitive function, and elevate mood. Ideally, our circadian rhythm would be in tune with the rhythm of the sun, but artificial light has changed this.


THE HARMFUL SIDE OF BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE


When we wake up, blue light from the sun tells our brains it’s day time, making us feel alert and awake. When the sun sets, the removal of blue light signals to our brain to secrete melatonin making us feel sleepy.


In the evening, when we stare at our cell phone, watch TV, or flip on the indoor lighting, we are exposing ourselves to blue light. This exposure, however brief, sends a message to the brain that it’s still daytime which disrupts our body’s production of melatonin.

According to studies at Harvard University, continued exposure to blue light after dark increases our risk of circadian diseases such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, and cancer.


THE DANGERS OF ARTIFICIAL BLUE LIGHT


The artificial blue light found in digital devices and light bulbs contains more blue waves of the spectrum than other colors, meaning our eyes are receiving an unbalanced amount of blue light. Over the course of the day, this concentrated amount of blue light penetrates our eyes, causing digital eye strain, headaches, and fatigue. Over time constant exposure can progress into macular degeneration.



infographic of how the exposure to blue light affects the brain and body


HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF


To effectively combat the harmful side of blue light exposure, it’s imperative to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. These are five recommended light management hacks for optimizing your living environment and reducing exposure to blue light.


1. Wear Daytime Blue Light Filtering Glasses


If you’re behind a computer all day or constantly looking at a phone or tablet, you’ll need protection against digital eye strain and mitochondrial damage. Wearing BLUBlox BluLight or SummerGlo blue light filtering glasses gives you the protection you need while still giving you enough blue light exposure to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.



top down of blue light blocking glasses


2. Wear 100% Blue and Green Light Blocking Glasses at Night


After the sun sets, we need complete filtration of blue and green light to allow a shift in hormone production from cortisol to melatonin. Even a tiny fraction of blue or green light between 400-550nm can disrupt your rhythm. This is why it’s important to switch over to the BLUBlox Sleep+ glasses which filter out 100% blue light in the range of 400nm to 550nm.


Be aware that not all blue light glasses are created equal! I trust and recommend BLUBlox for high-quality glasses backed by science.


3. Swap out all Light Bulbs for Red or Incandescent Light Bulbs


Our skin has its own circadian rhythm. To go into repair mode, the skin needs zero exposure to blue and green light. Blue light hitting your skin after dark causes aging, inflammation, disrupts your hormones, and could potentially cause skin cancer. To combat this, swap all bulbs for Non-LED Incandescent light bulbs.


4. Take a Sun Break


Every day, get outside for a few minutes - go for a walk, eat your lunch outside, take a nap in the grass. Light signals from the sun keep your hormones balanced and your body clock in sync.


5. Turn your iPhone into Red Mode


With the push of three buttons, you can set your iPhone screen to “red mode” and protect your body clock from 100% of the damage from blue and green light.


  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Display and Text Size > Color Filters

  2. Enable “Color Filters” by flipping the switch.

  3. Select “Color Tint” as your filter.

  4. Adjust the “Intensity” and “Hue” sliders all the way to the right for maximum redness.


To Set Up a Short Cut:


  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut

  2. Select “Color Filters” from the list of options.


When you’re done, every time you triple-click the right-side button on your iPhone, it will switch between normal screen mode and red mode.


Blue light doesn’t just affect tech users – it affects us all. Take the plunge to protect your eye health, sleep, and hormones.

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