Get a Blue Light Blocker
“I was doing great, Dr. Claire…”
Patient A (for Awesome) said that to me yesterday, while she lay with her neck in my hands.
The debilitating knot – the subluxation – that she developed along the right side of her neck, the one that she cleared two days ago, threatened to clamp down again.
“I went to the rally, I felt like I did some good, and I told myself, ‘I’m not going to read anymore about the news tonight. I’m going right to bed.’
“Sure enough, I’m at home five minutes, and I dive right into the news! I was craning my neck for two hours, then I couldn’t sleep for three more! I got a total four hours of sleep!”
Can’t Sleep? Blue Light Blues!
Patient Awesome is, well, awesome. She gets out there and fights for what she believes is right. She runs her own business, she’s writing a book, she teaches yoga and sleep meditation…
…which is why it is especially ironic that she’s having trouble sleeping!
She is definitely not alone. I don’t have to tell you that the news is pretty incredible these days. Many people are having trouble looking away, even right before bedtime.
During times like these, it’s important to remember adages that hold true. One is the adage about being informed vs. being obsessed.
You can be informed without inundating yourself. Scan the headlines, take in what you need to take in, and close the browser, turn the channel, or put down the newspaper.
It takes discipline, but we can do it.
It’s especially important that we try to do it these days. We all need to make ourselves strong and healthy during the best of times. It is especially true for uncertain times.
What else can we do, short of that? Because, keeping it 100, most of us don’t do that.
Our electronic devices emit blue light wavelength, which is okay (in small doses) during the day. The frequency of blue light helps us stay alert.
Which is why it’s not good to bask in the blue light glow right before bedtime.
Light at Night – Shut it Down
Tons of studies show that light exposure in the evening interferes with the brain’s production of melatonin, the hormone that balances the brain’s circadian rhythms. Levels of light that aren’t much brighter than a nightlight can interfere with melatonin production.
While we’re talking about melatonin, it’s worth mentioning that there have been many recent studies linking lack of melatonin production with more than just sleep deprivation; blood sugar levels, heart disease, fat reduction, and risk of cancer are all affected by your levels of melatonin.
It’s no wonder, then, that anxiety and depression are influenced as well.
So, those are solid reasons to keep your room as dark as possible at night, anyway. But what if you’re the type to wake at 2 a.m. and grab your phone to check the Twitter or Facebook newsfeeds?
You know you shouldn’t, but…
Blue Light at Night Makes Me…Uptight (*ugh! FAIL!!!)
Researchers have singled out blue light as a light wavelength that is singularly harmful to melatonin production. As early as 2003, a Harvard study showed that blue light, in particular, interfered with melatonin production twice as much as green light, and shifted circadian rhythms by three hours, as opposed to one and a half hours with green light .
Get A blue light blocker
LED lighting, in particular, contains a lot of light from the blue light spectrum – which is why we shouldn’t be using LED light in our homes, unfortunately.
Yes, I know LED light bulbs are energy-saving bulbs. We have to come up with something else. That’s a blog post for another day.
Our electronic devices are lit with LED lighting, so we can either wear blue-light-blocking goggles at night when we scan our phones and pads (yeah, right), or turn on/download apps that can block the blue light from our devices.
For IPhones/IPads with iOS 9.3 and later:
Go to your settings, and touch the Brightness and Display setting. You’ll see something called Night Shift. Turn it on. When asked, press From Sunset to Sunrise. If you can’t hack that, at least set it for 3 hours before you normally go to sleep.
Your screen should turn an amber color during those times.
For your Android, you’ll have to download an app. Twilight seems to be a good one that doesn’t need too many permissions.
I use a free app called F.Lux on my Mac, but the Apple store doesn’t carry it. I got it off CNet Downloads .
If you have a PC and/or want to research it a bit more, here’s a blogpost by Gecko and Fly in which they recommend apps that you can download right now:
Have a good night!