We have discussed the characteristics of light and how it can be damaging to our health. Now we will look at steps we can take to reduce it’s stressful effects on our bodies.
Evidence suggests maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm reduces the risk of chronic diseases and increases longevity.
Light & Screen time
Obviously, the best way to reduce the effect of blue light from electronic devices is to reduce the amount of time you spend using them. Especially at night, avoid using devices as much as possible at night. At the least switch them off an hour or two before going to bed.
It can be hard to reduce screen time, particularly for those who work in front of the computer all day for a living. But there are things you can do to reduce the toxic effects.
Blue light screen protectors can be purchased for most devices. They are a slim film which blocks blue light and reduces the glare.
If you are regularly switching between devices, then a better option can be glasses that block blue light. There are many options available and can be added to prescription glasses as well.
There are many apps available for your phone or tablet that mask or filter blue light. They work by shifting the colour tone of the screen to warmer parts of the spectrum like yellow, orange, or red. Night Shift is included on all Apple devices, and Android devices have Night Mode built-in, and F.lux is a free download available for Mac and PC.
While these apps offer some protection, many only mask the blue light, so are best used in conjunction with light filtering glasses.
Let there be (natural) light
Natural light is always best. Each morning open the curtains and let in the sun. Morning sunlight increases serotonin, our feel-good hormone.
If your house does not get good morning sun, then go outside and sit in the sun for 5- 10 minutes before you start your day. Sunlight is great for your energy levels and alertness as well as your circadian rhythm.
If you work indoors, take the time to go outside during your breaks. Sitting in the sun not only boosts your vitamin D, but it helps to boost your mood as well. To ensure you are getting adequate levels of vitamin D you need to be in the sun long enough for your skin to go slightly pink – but NOT burnt. Keep in mind if you have darker skin this will take a little longer. Aim to do this at least 2 – 3 times per week to get the recommended 20-30,000iu of vitamin D that you need.
Avoid bright lighting at night. Candlelight is best, otherwise, opt for using small lamps rather than bright ceiling lights as much as is practical. Using dimmers is not recommended due to the dirty electricity and EMF they can cause.
Where you can, choose warm white lights instead of cool white. They don’t produce less blue light, but warm white lights give off more yellow light. While they don’t seem as bright and are still a source of blue light, they are less damaging to the retina and the lesser of two evils.
Timing is key
The key to maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm is establishing a healthy routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake at around the same time, even on weekends.
Avoid atypical habits such as eating and going to sleep later, waking up later, and exercising at different times of the day. This can have the same effect on your biological clock as jetlag.
It can take some time to change our habits, and this can be particularly difficult for those who are up before the sun, or shift workers. In the meantime continue to work on other things to optimize your health. Eventually, you may need to consider changing jobs or shifts for your own wellbeing.
Next week we will start to look at the next in our series of stressors, sound. We will be looking at toxic sources of sound, how it can negatively impact our health, and changes we can make to reduce its impact.