Sleeping in Kelowna: Block out the Blue Light

Trouble falling asleep at night? Do you lay in bed trying to fall asleep for hours? It has not been so long that nighttime has been illuminated by artificial lighting. In the modern era it seems natural, however our bodies and eyes have yet to evolve to many of the changes modern life brings. Not all lighting affects our bodies in the same way. Our Kelowna Optometrists will outline the differences between red and blue tone light, as well as why you should avoid blue-light a few hours before you plan on sleeping. Take care of your eyes and they will reward you with a better sleep, improved vision, and overall wellness.

Keeping Kelowna Sleep in Check: The Science Behind Light

The colour we see is a result of the energy and wavelength of the light itself. On one end of the spectrum, we have blue-light. This is high energy light with shorter wavelengths, meaning it has a larger effect on our wakefulness and circadian rhythm (more on that later). On the other end of the spectrum is red-light, with longer wavelengths and lower energy. Our eyes interpret this data as colour, however it might not seem obvious that light is affecting how you feel. Do your eyes feel tired from a few hours behind a computer monitor? Our screens have been increasing their brightness year after year, so it is important to be aware of the impact that has on your eyes! Keeping the colour and brightness of your monitor in check can have a discernable effect on how you feel when it is time for bed, and also how you feel come morning. Poor sleep can lead to a number of health problems, including those related to your eyes – eye twitching and puffy dark circles are two examples.

How is Red-Light Different from Blue-Light?

Your circadian rhythm is dictated by a few different stimuli, the frontrunner being bright light stimulation. Let’s break that down – the circadian rhythm is your body’s natural internal clock, dictating when you feel tired and awake, working on a (roughly) 24-hour cycle. Your internal clock can shift over time, just as the amount of daylight in a day changes throughout the year. Unfortunately, when you expose your eyes to light during the nighttime, you are unconsciously shifting your biological clock, your circadian rhythm. To counteract this, you will need to reduce the amount of blue light reaching your eyes at night, or cut it out altogether. Blue light comes from all sources of lights, from LCD screens to light bulbs. Purchasing “warm” tone bulbs can make a difference, as these tend to reduce the blue-light that is output by the bulb. Also, you can set your phone, tablet, or computer to change its colour output to work with the sunrise and sunset. If you manage the amount of blue-light reaching your eyes at night, you will enjoy the benefits of a faster and deeper sleep.

How Can I Reduce Eye-Strain in the Okanagan?

In recent years the software on our devices has begun including options to filter out the blue-light output by the screen. Windows and Mac OS X are beginning to include settings that adjust the colour output by the screen to work in tandem with the sunrise and sunset. If this is not enough, there are blue-blocking glasses available that can cut out blue-light altogether. Here are the options currently available:

  • Windows
    • Simply open the Settings app on your Windows 10 PC. Now, look for the display option and click on it.
    • Near the top, you’ll find a toggle below Lower blue light automatically. Now, turn this toggle to On.
  • Mac OS X
    • Open up System Preferences and click on Displays
    • In this menu, go to Night Shift and turn on the Schedule to “Sunset to Sunrise”
  • f.lux
    • This was the first option on the market, and still works great!
    • Download the app and see the change immediately

Filtering out blue-light at night time is proven to reduce the effect of our screens on our sleep. Blue-light is the most harmful in this regard, changing our circadian rhythm by hours when viewed at night. Technology is catching up to this trend, by offering warm-tone bulbs and including software that blocks out some of the blue-light that devices are constantly outputting. Get the rest you deserve, cut out the blue-light and get your circadian rhythm back in check!

When you are ready for your next check-up, or should you have any questions about blue-light and how it affects your health, give us a call at 250.860.2020!