You may know that blue light naturally comes from the sun and is what makes the sky appear blue. Blue light is a short, but high energy, a wavelength that gives us energy and controls our sleep cycle. But did you know that artificial blue light that is emitted from digital devices is a lot stronger than the natural and can be harmful to the body? With laptops, cellphones, tablets, and even LED lights being a part of our daily lives, humans are seeing a huge increase in the exposure to blue light, beginning to understand some of the negative effects it has on the body, and how to avoid them.
Digital eye strain: Digital eye strain is a term coined by The Vision Council to explain the range of symptoms that one may feel with extended or simultaneous use of digital devices that affect vision and quality of life. The symptoms you may experience are dry eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and even neck and back pain. Think of all of the times during the day you may use your computer or phone – work, research, school, shopping, and browsing social media. Spending just two hours a day looking at your screen can cause blue light to affect you. While 43% of adults have a full-time job that requires a computer or tablet and a 2014 survey found that nearly 12% percent of teens report using their computers for four or more hours a day. Understanding digital eye strain is key to understanding the effects that blue light has on other areas of the body as well.
What can you do? To help reduce the symptoms you may feel from digital eye strain, try to filter and block the blue light around you. Apps like f.lux match the brightness and warmth of your computer screen to the lighting of the room you’re in to reduce strain on the eyes. You can also invest in blue light glasses to help filter out the wavelength from reaching your eyes to reduce dry eyes, blurry vision, and headaches.
The sleep cycle: Because blue light is a high energy wavelength that is emitted from the sun, it has controlled the sleep cycle for years. Blue light indicates to the brain when to release cortisol, the hormone that helps you feel awake, and the absence of blue light helps produce melatonin to help you sleep. With the introduction of LED light bulbs and electronics, that cycle is becoming disrupted because blue light is stopping melatonin from being released, making it harder to fall and stay asleep. There are a ton of negative side effects to the body when we don’t get enough sleep, such as heart disease, low libido, depression, memory loss, and even weight gain.
What can you do? Sleep is vital to our health, to help yourself steer clear of blue light before bedtime, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, remove the LED bulbs from your bedroom so that isn’t the last light you’re exposed to before wanting to go to sleep. Try to avoid using your phone and television at least an hour before bed; to help wind down, read a book, listen to music, or meditate. If you can’t abstain from using your phone, turn on the night mode that comes equipped with most smartphones now. This will dim the brightness on your phone and remind you when it’s time to go to bed at a time set by you.
Premature aging of your skin: Although research is still ongoing, dermatologists have found that blue light affects the skin similarly to other light rays like UV rays. Looking at your screen and extended use of your phone next to your face while you’re talking on it can cause hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, redness, and worsened elasticity. Just like the other ways, it affects the body, blue light’s high energy can cause the skin to produce more pigment. Plus, when we don’t get enough sleep (which we’ve learned can happen due to blue light exposure!) our skin suffers from dehydration and lack of cell regeneration.
What can you do? With new research on the effects of blue light on our skin coming out regularly now, skincare brands are providing products to help boost elasticity and reduce hyperpigmentation. Look into moisturizers that protect against blue light, UV rays, and even pollution like this one to protect yourself and nourish your skin.
Natural and artificial blue light is a part of our everyday lives but anything in excess isn’t always good for you. With increasing exposure to artificial blue light, digital eye strain, sleep deprivation, and aging skin are just some of the negative effects you may be suffering from. No matter how you feel blue light may be affecting your body, it’s important to protect against these symptoms to be healthy and feel your best.