By R. “Ryan” S Patel DO, FAPA-OSU CCS Psychiatrist
Blue spectrum light from electronics suppresses melatonin for several hours after use (1,2) and disrupts your circadian (sleep wake cycle) clock (3). This impacts sleep quality and daytime tiredness (4). Sleep disruption can also impact anxiety, depression, and many other health conditions (5).
So it may be worth avoiding use of electronic devices such as computer, tv, tablets, smartphones, etc. 1-3 hours before bedtime.
Some suggest replacing exposure to bright light bulbs with dim light bulbs around bedtime (6) may also be helpful. There are even light bulbs that do not emit blue light.
What if I need to use electronics at bedtime?
Sometimes it may be necessary to be on the computer, tv, smartphone, etc right before bedtime.
Blue blockers may help prevent sleep disruption from electronics.
How do blue blockers work?
They block blue light emitted by electronic devices, thus melatonin is not disrupted (6).
What are some examples of blue light blockers?
Some examples include blue blocker eye glasses, software programs that prevent your device from emitting blue light, plastic filter screens that are placed on top of the screens to block blue light, and light bulbs that do not emit blue light. You can search for “blue light blockers” “blue light filters”, “bedtime reading software” etc. in a search engine, or in an app store.
Do blue blockers work?
There are small studies that show blue blockers work to prevent melatonin disruption and improve quality of sleep and mood.
For example, 20 subjects were randomized to use either blue blocking glasses, or non blue blocking glasses 3 hours before bedtime over a 2 weeks period (7).
What did the results show?
Those who used blue-blocking glasses reported better sleep quality and mood.
Words of caution:
• You still need to be mindful of getting enough hours of sleep—getting 4 or 5 hours of quality sleep when you need 8 will still leave you tired.
• Blue blocking methods may not help with your sleep if your device usage is overly entertaining or emotionally intense.
• You still need to address other causes such as use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol use, etc.
• This is still a relatively new terrain and further research is needed.
Are you sleeping poorly? Are you tired during the day? Are electronic devices interfering with your sleep; can you cut down your usage before bedtime? Can blue blockers help you?
What are other ways to improve sleep?
National sleep foundation sleep tips.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
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