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One Simple Thing To Do For Better Sleep

I,  like most of the population, am never far from my mobile phone or iPad.  Using it as my alarm clock it is in my bedroom so I invariably end up doing some pre-sleep internet surfing, Pintrest pinning or FaceBook checking.  I don’t think I’m alone on this.  Even those who read a Kindle,  iPad or watch TV need to read on if you want to avoid some huge health issues.

The use of light emitting devices is huge during our bed time routine.  The reason this is a problem is because blue light,  which is part of normal light,  is in a higher concentration in these devices than natural light.  We are more sensitive to the blue light wavelength thanks to light sensors in the eyes that reactive to different light wavelengths.

Blue light has an impact on melatonin production,  our sleep inducing hormone.  Melatonin helps control our circadian rhythm (body’s natural clock).  By affecting melatonin levels, blue light can have terrible impact on our sleep patterns making us more sleepy during the day even impact on organ function.  So the use of our blue light emitting devices has a very concerning effect on our overall long term health.

Light is the biggest influencer on our circadian rhythm. Melatonin, our sleep hormone increases in levels a few hours before bed,  peaks middle of the night and drops to low levels during the day.  When mornings get lighter it causes an advancement in our body clock so we wake up earlier.  That explains a lot with my little girl waking up at 5 during the summer months!

Research (http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1232) has found reading on light emitting devices at bed time as opposed to a book, causes you to;

  •  take longer to fall asleep
  • have less REM sleep (dream phase)
  • have increased level of alertness before bed
  • after 8 hrs sleep you are more sleepy on waking and take longer to wake up.

The study finding these results ensured that all participants had to switch lights off at 10pm. In home environment this often gets a little later. In the real world perhaps the impact is far greater than in the controlled study environment.

The clinical benefits of light on melatonin production have been known for a while hence it’s use to help treat depression,  eating and sleep disorders and even age related dementia.  Consider how we use it to help with jet lag too.

Some suggestions to help combat the impact of blue light on our sleep and health are as follows;

1. No blue light after 9pm

2. Dim brightness on your device

3. Add an app that filters out short wave light in the evening.

- iPhones – setting under “Display & Brightness” in Settings. You can set for blue   light reduction as specific times or sunset to sunrise.

- Android or other device try f.lux (https://justgetflux.com)

or Twilight (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.urbandroid.lux&hl=en_GB)

Our “One Thing” Challenge for October is no blue light after 9pm.  See the benefits over the month and let us know how you get on.

I can’t wait to try it!  We’d be daft not to, given the impact it has on our body and I definitely want to feel less sleepy and more energetic when I wake up! Who’s doing this with me and the team?