Evening Light

The impact of evening light exposure on sleep and strategies for minimizing exposure.

Just as it is essential to maximize our exposure to blue spectrum light during the day, it is equally important to minimize our exposure at night. For thousands of years, humans were exposed to blue light only during the day, and as the sun set and the blue light disappeared, our brains produced melatonin, our primary sleep hormone, and we fell asleep until sunrise. However, with the invention of the light bulb just 150 years ago, and the increasing use of screens in our daily lives, we now expose ourselves to all sorts of light at all different times, which confuses our brains and disrupts our sleep.

Blue light and sleep

Exposure to blue light in the evenings inhibits the production of melatonin for up to two hours, interfering with our sleep and potentially increasing our pain levels. Melatonin is not only responsible for promoting sleep but also has pain-relieving effects as a potent antioxidant. To reduce the impact of blue light on sleep, it is best to avoid all blue light exposure for at least two hours before our set bedtime.

Blue lights filters

Whenever possible, it's advisable to use blue light filters on devices, particularly handheld devices. Many phones, tablets, and laptops have a built-in "night mode" function that can be found in the settings or control panel. Alternatively, software such as Flux can be used as a personalized blue light filter that adjusts to your sleep schedule. Flux can be downloaded for free at justgetflux.com.

Dimming household lights

In the evening, it is recommended to dim your lights where possible, and candlelight can be particularly beneficial. Taking an evening shower or having dinner by candlelight can help prepare our bodies for sleep and encourage our minds to wind down and relax. If candlelight is not an option, you may consider replacing your light bulbs with blue-filtered bulbs, which can be purchased at many specialty retailers.