The Dangers of Blue Light
One light bulb manufacturer sent shock waves through the lighting industry recently when it announced that it would put this warning on it’s light bulbs:
Lighting Sciences Group believes that there is now a critical mass of evidence pointing to the dangers of excessive blue light. I applaud them for raising awareness of the issue. It certainly won’t hurt the marketing campaign for their new line of low blue light bulbs either!
So is too much blue light really dangerous? Well, the concerns are primarily related to the timing of exposure to the light. During the day, blue light has little effect on our circadian rhythms and exposure to it may have some benefits including promoting alertness. Blue light in the evening can suppress your body’s endogenous (naturally occurring) melatonin secretion, leading to difficulty falling and staying asleep. But most significantly, an increasing body of evidence is finding associations between blue light exposure during the night and certain cancers. Indeed, nighttime shift work is considered a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization – in the same category as HPV and lead. Many sleep experts feel that the link between shift work and cancer is likely explained by nocturnal blue light exposure.
My advice, based on the existing scientific evidence, would be to try to avoid significant exposure to blue light 2-3 hours before bed. It’s true that blue light is a component of white light, which is what most of the light bulbs in our homes emit. However, it’s the really big sources of blue light that we have to be concerned about, namely our computers and electronic devices. If you absolutely have to be “plugged in” at night, I recommend using blue blocker glasses or a blue blocking monitor screen, available online from multiple manufacturers.
This might be another solution for you:
I recommend this free product to many of my tech-addicted patients. It can help manage blue light emissions from your devices by selectively reducing blue light emission from monitors over the course of the day.
Yours in better sleep,
Dr. Joseph Krainin
Joseph Krainin, M.D., FAASM is the Founder and Owner of Singular Sleep an innovative comprehensive online sleep clinic. A graduate of the renowned Michael S. Aldrich Sleep Disorders Center at University of Michigan, Dr. Krainin is a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and board certified in both Sleep Medicine and Neurology. He has a special interest in sleep apnea and restless legs and is an expert in the field of sleep and human performance, having worked with many professional athletes throughout his career.