The conclusion of Daylight Saving time this past weekend means the night comes a little earlier. Logic may tell you that the longer and darker evenings will make falling asleep easier. However, even though the nights are longer we are also using smartphones, tablets and HDTV’s more and more in the 21st Century, particularly at night. Some scientists believe that Mr. Sandman has a new nemesis – the little blue light in all of these new-fangled devices.
What It Is
Naturally occurring blue light, a short wavelength in the light spectrum, is abundant in sunshine and hugely beneficial during the day when the majority of people need to be awake and alert. It’s been said to boost mood and increase attention span by stimulating sensors in the eye that then send signals to our internal clock. It also suppresses melatonin — a hormone produced by humans that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles — more than any other light wave. In fact, blue light is so efficient at suppressing melatonin that it’s often used to treat seasonal sleep disorders by mimicking the naturally occurring light of the sun. Here is where the problem surfaces — modern devices like high definition televisions, smartphones and tablets are massive producers of blue light. This blue light wreaks havoc on our circadian rhythms — our internal “body clock” that regulates 24-hour cycles, approximately — by basically tricking our brains into thinking it’s still daytime.