This is a guest post written by light expert Andy Mant, CEO and founder of BLUblox, a company specializing in evidence-based light filtering eyewear. You can use the code “WELLNESS” for 15% off your pair of BLUblox blue light blocking glasses at blublox.com!
Before the dawn of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of light, and people spent their evenings in relative darkness. In the world we are living in today, the evenings are illuminated with artificial light – something many of us take for granted.
Artificial light after dark has aided in the technological revolution and allowed mankind to be more productive during the day. However, we are paying a huge price for being under artificial light constantly and shielded from the sun.
Exposure to artificial light during the day is leading to a rise in digital eye strain, which has symptoms of tension headaches and dry and watery eyes after prolonged computer use, or after periods of time under LED lighting. This is leading to an increase in cases of macular degeneration and severe eye degradation.
After dark, the blue light from your appliances, house lights, shopping malls, TV, smart phone, laptop, street lamps, and car headlights is disrupting your production of melatonin, which is our healing hormone. Melatonin heals the body from inflammation during the day and is also essential for sleep… so we kinda want to be producing it optimally!
Below is a list of the best light management hacks to optimize your light environment. These hacks will guarantee less digital eye strain, less migraines, less anxiety, less feeling down, better sleep, better recovery, more energy, and less illness.
10. Turn your iPhone screen to red!
After sunset, even a tiny fraction of blue or green light between 400-550 nm can disrupt your circadian rhythms. Think you are fully protected by wearing blue blocking glasses after dark? Think again! Having a blue-lit LED digital device such as your smart phone pointing at your thyroid after dark can give you all sorts of hormone-related issues. And what about the built in Night Shift Mode on your smart phone? Well, my lab has tested this feature, and it does not eliminate all blue light – that’s not good for you or your thyroid. But, what if I told you I could turn your iPhone red at the push (or three) of your smart phone’s home button? Well, you can! The link below will take you to the instructions.
9. Wear a Scarf
As we now know, exposure to blue light can disrupt the function of our thyroid. We have seen a rapid rise in Hashimoto’s and thyroid related illness over the last 20 years. This is why we have turned our iPhone screens red from light hack number 10, but this does not protect us from other sources of blue light that cannot be hacked or haven’t yet been hacked. This is why I always recommend you wear a scarf when under artificial light. Your thyroid is your hormone’s powerhouse, and you need to protect it. Just a light silk scarf will do fine, or anything similar you have laying around the house.
8. Salt Lamps
Blue light from the sun and artificial light causes damage to your eyes and skin. In fact, a recent study showed that blue light accelerates aging when administered to our skin in isolation from other colors of light! The sun is different because it is full of restorative red light. The red light in the sun repairs any damage the blue light causes. The issue with artificial lighting is that there is next to no restorative red present, so we need to balance out this light with some red light. Salt lamps are more of a pink color, but their properties allow for healing, and the glow created will balance the blue from your laptop or those dreaded office lights! Salt lamps are cheap to buy and great for your light hygiene, and I would highly recommend everyone has one when under artificial light.
7. Watching the Sunrise
Another free yet powerful light hack is to watch the sunrise! The rising sun contains the exact frequencies of light that help to set your master clock and your hormone cascade for the day and night ahead. This helps with serotonin production, which is later turned into melatonin after dark in combination with tryptophan. Dopamine is also released, which heightens our well-being. Cortisol is also spiked which kicks us into gear to tackle the day ahead. If we miss a sunrise, we miss this circadian entrainment and also the hormone cascade which runs our day. Missing the sunrise can mean more calories get consumed in the day, we feel anxious, we have a low mood, and we cannot sleep later in the evening. Practice makes perfect when it comes to sunrises. If you aren’t a morning person, you definitely will be after a few weeks of watching the sunrise – you’ll feel and sleep better than ever!
6. REMedy Sleep Mask
Light shining into our closed eyes as we sleep has been shown in studies to increase insulin resistance, disrupt our hormones, and lead to obesity or weight gain. Light could be from passing car headlights, street lamps, neighbor’s lights, burglar’s torches (I’m joking), or your partner using the bathroom during the night. By ensuring 100% blackout in your sleeping environment by using the REMedy sleep mask, you will be 100% guaranteed darkness as you sleep. This sleep mask is also great for meditating and traveling! Blackout curtains are also helpful, but they don’t stop the light coming in from nighttime bathroom breaks.
One of the biggest issues in our light environment is computer monitors and laptop screens. They not only emit copious amounts of blue and green light they also flicker. I would recommend that everyone put software on their computers to reduce blue light and flicker. I do not recommend F.lux, as it only targets blue light reduction, whereas IRIS targets both blue light reduction and flicker. Too much flicker can lead to nervous system damage, so it’s a serious issue in lights we need to target!
4. Daytime Blue Light Filtering Glasses
During the day when under artificial blue light, we do not want to block blue light, we want to filter it down so that we get less eye and mitochondria damage. We do not want to block blue light entirely because we need it for optimal health and wellness (#context applied here, as sunlight is obviously the most optimal source of blue light). The issue with many clear lens blue-light filtering glasses out there is that about 99% of them focus on reducing blue light between 400-440 nm. However when you see the LED light emission from your screens, the target area is much greater.
This is why BLUblox has created the BluLite clear lens and the SummerGlo yellow lens. BluLite targets blue light between 400-495 nm and reduces it by about 30%, reducing damaging blue light across the entire spectrum – not just a fraction of it. Our SummerGlo lenses go a step further to reduce blue light across the entire blue spectrum, but with a strong focus on light between 400-465 nm. When you’re looking for a blue light filtering lens for daytime, make sure they filter across the entire blue spectrum and not just a tiny fraction, otherwise you’ll be wasting your money.
3. Sun Breaks
This is by far the best of the free hacks! Sun breaks allow your eyes and skin to receive necessary light signals from the sun to keep your hormones balanced and your body clock in sync. I recommend giving yourself regular 5 minute sun breaks. Eat your lunch outside, even if it’s cloudy, and you will feel your mood lift and you’ll notice a much better hormone profile.
2. Red Light Bulbs
Wearing your blue blockers after dark is essential – we all now know this as gospel. However, blue light hitting your skin after dark causes aging, inflammation, and possible hormone production. The skin has its own circadian rhythm and needs zero blue and green light between 400-550 nm after sunset to go into repair mode. Some people have even gone as far as suggesting that it’s excessive blue light exposure and not UV that is causing skin cancer rates to rise across the world. Our skin is always under blue light, meaning more inflammation and less repair time! This is why I recommend installing red light bulbs in your lamps and house lights. These will allow your skin to repair and will relax your body before bed. Incandescent is best because they don’t flicker. Halogen is next best, but it is very bright. LEDs flicker, which we know is not optimal for our central nervous system. However, I will share a little secret with you for reading this article so far…BLUblox is not far off from releasing a red LED zero flicker light bulb for every country. Stay on the lookout!
1. 100% Blue Light Blocking Glasses (and green….)
After the sun has set, our bodies need physiological darkness to be able to shift hormone production from cortisol to melatonin and to prepare us for the recovery phase. Physiological darkness can be defined as the absence of blue and green light between 400-550 nm. Conventional “blue blockers” block anywhere between 50%-98% of blue light between 400-500 nm. Some companies have even gone as far as 100% from 400-530 nm. However, whether you let 2% or 100% of melatonin-disrupting blue or green light into your eyes makes no difference to your master clock. It still gets the message that it’s not dark, so it does not optimize melatonin production. So when people say they can buy $4 blue blockers that block 98% of blue light, you will know that they should have spent that $4 on a red light bulb, which would be a much better investment, or put it towards a scientifically tested and evidence-backed, 100% light blocking (from 400-550 nm) red lens such as BLUblox Sleep+. Wear these after sunset to optimize your recovery and sleep! They are also very useful for flights to manage jet lag, and also for dark winter mornings before the sunrise.
I could list at least another 20 light hacks, so stay tuned for a second installment soon. Keep hacking the light and living your best and healthiest life!
Don’t forget to use the discount code “WELLNESS” for 15% off your pair of BLUblox blue light blocking glasses at blublox.com!