Smartphones, blue light and melanopsin; that tricky trifecta combo is probably rocking the boat on your smooth sailing into deep sleep. Melanopsin is a light sensing photopigment found in the eye and helps to trigger the production of melatonin or in the presence of blue light stop the production. (1) It’s your body’s way of naturally regulating the sleep cycle known as the circadian rhythm.
Electronic devices like Smartphones and tablets emit a wave length of light measured at 400-480 nanometers. (2) The longer you are exposed to this blue light at night, the longer it takes to fall asleep. So just how does the blue light keep you away from zzzz land? Ah, beautiful daytime blue light, that your Smartphone or computer screen is emitting right now as you read this. That niffy blue light that helps you keep updated on Facebook and your favorite blogs late at night is telling our friend in our eye melanopsin to “HALT! STOP the production of melatonin, we think it’s daytime!”
Now if you’re anything like most people, turning off all the lights and all electronic devices at 8pm at night probably just won’t happen. What can you do to possibly help limit your exposure to blue light in the evening before bed? I’ve tested out a few options and here’s what helped me. I’ve been sleeping more sound, I have much less eye strain when viewing my electronic devices and I’ve been having more vivid dreams as well.
Yep, maybe you guessed where I’m going with this…queue the song “I wear my sunglasses at night”. Only change the lyrics to I wear my blue blockers at night. Melanopsin is most sensitive to blue light, so you need to block the blue light coming into your eyes three hours before you go to sleep. (3) Any glasses with blue blocking lens (4) will do, I use a pair of orange/amber hued safety glasses (5) that fit over my prescription glasses. I dare say I look pretty fabulous in them! Weird is fun!
Orange light bulbs.
I installed an orange colored light bulb in the lamp next to my bed. (6) And also amber colored night lights in the hallway and bathroom for when you get up in the middle of the night. This would be especially important if you have a child that is afraid of the dark and you feel they need a night light, find one in the orange spectrum. (7)
Bluelight Filter for Eye Care app.
Now I just have to say this app is AMAZING! Bluelight Filter for Eye Care app will work for your Android phone or tablet. (8) It installs easily and allows you full control over your phone for when you want to activate the blue light filter. I have much less eye strain when viewing my smartphone with this app activated. And if I’m laying in bed looking at my phone with only my orange lamp light on I don’t need the glasses and the blue light is still effectively blocked.
Darker (Screen Filter) app.
This app called Darker (Screen Filter) is a dimmer app. (9) I have extremely sensitive eyes and lights have in the past triggered migraines that cause temporary blindness in my right eye. I have found with the blue light filter and the dimmer app together not one migraine has been triggered!
So far I’ve found for my iPhone a temporary screen protector that includes a blue light filter. (10) But unfortunately I don’t get the relief from eye strain from this physical screen filter like I do on my Android devices with the Blue light filter app. I have discovered that wearing the glasses when viewing my iPhone is the most effective option. There are also blue light filters for your ipad. (11)
Well there you have it the tools you need to not have to put that phone down at night. But don’t be surprised if you are so sleepy you drift off into dream land earlier than usual. One last tip, get LOTS of the pretty blue light during the daytime!
1 Melanopsin : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22877656
2 Wavelengths of color: http://science-edu.larc.nasa.gov/EDDOCS/Wavelengths_for_Colors.html#blue
3 Amber lenses to block blue light and improve sleep: a randomized trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030543
4 Blue blocker glasses impede the capacity of bright light to suppress melatonin production. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16842544
8 Blue Light Filter for eye care app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.ne.hardyinfinity.bluelightfilter.free
9 Darker (Screen Filter) app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mlhg.screenfilter
10 iPhone blue light screen protector http://www.amazon.com/Tech-Armor-RetinaShield-Filter-Protector/dp/B00GPABQD4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402006238&sr=8-1&keywords=iphone+blue+light+filter