Ever since I went to the ACSM Annual Meeting back in May – I have been very intrigued with sleep. What is sleep? What factors affect sleep? What are the effects of sleep deprivation? And the presentation that started it all – a talk I went to on the role of blue light on our sleep – that soft blue glow that illuminates the room from these devices.
In 2018 – we are constantly exposed to blue lights – in particular from our phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. While blue light has been shown to boot attention, reaction times, and mood – it is disruptive to our sleep cycle. Blue light not only suppresses melatonin secretion (the key regulator to the timing of sleep) – it also shifts our circadian rhythm (our internal clock).
How does this occur? We have always known that we have rods in our eyes for vision in low light levels and cones for color vision in more bright settings – but we also have ipRCGs. These are intrinsically photosensitive retinol ganglion cells (in case you were curious 😉 ) that are not responsible for forming images, instead they communicate to our internal clock to release melatonin.
What can you do to reduce the effect of blue lights on our sleep?
- Avoid looking at bright screens 2-3 hours before bed
- Consider wearing blue light blocking glasses if you work night shift or use electronic devices (I love my Felix Grays )
- Utilize the blue light filter on your phone to turn on around 7pm every night
- Get outside! Expose yourself to bright lights during the day to help boost your ability to sleep
Sleep deprivation is a significant epidemic that we face in today’s society so any small adjustment we make can reap significant benefits .
Are you interested in learning more about my research and sleep? Leave a comment below and I’ll write future blog posts about it.
American Sleep Association. What is Sleep? Why is it needed? Retrieved from http://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/what-is-sleep/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017) Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html
Tosini, G., Ferguson, I., & Tsubota, K. (2016). Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Molecular vision, 22, 61-72.
Walker, M. (2017).Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. New York, NY: Scribner.