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Humans have always aspired to win over nature. It started from the discovery of fire and has been a continuous theme of our evolution. From fireside chat in a remote summer camp to sending emojis while in the comforts of our homes, the presence of light has defined our lives.
Our electronic devices and indoor lighting control the time and space we inhabit. No wonder it feels difficult for the majority of us to embrace nightlife without these bright lights around.
What is beneficial for us can also be disruptive if not consumed in proper measure. Blue-white light comes with this double edge. During the daytime, it improves our alertness level and keeps our moods in check. But the same blue-white light can suppress the release of melatonin - the hormone that helps us sleep.
Here are some tips that you can follow for a night of better sleep:
LEDs might be energy-efficient, but they are not sleep-efficient. As per the American Medical Association, LED lights at night can increase insomnia and decrease our attention levels for the next day. And continuous exposure to blue-white light can increase hormonal imbalances and obesity too. But not all LEDs and Blue lights are the villains here. We can limit the disruption caused by these lights if we can bring the CCT (correlated color temperature) value by 3000 Kelvin or lower. Now what is CCT value, you would ask.
CCT or Correlated Color Temperature marks the radiation and the spread of a light source. Higher CCT means more blue light. Thus, when choosing a night bulb, you should always go for a lower CCT value. Bulbs with lower CCT values emit yellow or orange light (not every bulb ), and they are conducive to your sleep.
When you are on a mission to free your bedroom from blue lights, a new set of lights shouldn't restrict your reading, eating, and other normal functions. Contrary to popular opinion, bulbs with lower CCT values do not always emit red or orange light. They can be as plain as your regular white light LEDs but with less impact on your sleep. You can consider these bulbs for your next shopping trip for night bulbs.
A warm amber-hue light without disrupting anyone’s sleep - you will find it cool for you and your family. It comes from the company that once designed red-light bulbs for NASA’s astronauts. They have brought the same research quality in their consumer products. Though it is on a higher-end, the benefits will be visible in your daily lives. And no, it won’t hamper your ability to read, eat, or move in the night.
This bulb emits a 100% blue-free spectrum that increases the melatonin in your body and improves your sleep cycle. The best part about this bulb is with its 2700K soft white light, you or your visitors won’t feel any visible difference.
There are several such innovative indoor lighting products in your nearest supermarket. Make sure to check the CCT value before buying your next set of night bulbs.
Several studies found that exposure to artificial lights suppresses melatonin levels and affects the quality of sleep. It fiddles with your body’s and mind’s understanding of the nighttime and further disturbs your natural body clock.
You should dim the lights almost 90 minutes to 2 hours before your bedtime. But we all know that as we rush towards a deadline or try to beat the traffic or have fun with our friends, we can rarely make it happen. So the best way out is to keep at least an hour gap before your head hits the pillow.
Those in the argument of indoor lights often say that its intensity is lesser than the daylight. But even while considering that, we often forget that millennia ago, this was not the case. When humans lived in caves, light and dark cycles of day and night balanced their lives. We may have evolved, but the truth is our body is still primitive in its nature. Our indoor lighting can still be brighter than a moonlit or a star-lit night. And that can confuse your body.
When you sleep in total darkness, your optic nerves receive little to no signal. This prompts the body to regulate your melatonin level. And you can sleep like the Flintstones. By the morning, your mind will be ready to fly amidst all the notifications and updates like the Jetsons.
Speaking of information and entertainment, it is very difficult to set a bar on when you should stop consuming it. Like an addict, we consume a copious amount of bright-blue light. New status updates, TikTok videos, your weekend watchlist - Everything comes through the blue-light emitting screens that seem to have captured our very essence. The continuous assault on our eyes impacts our sleep too.
You can not escape it. But you can protect yourself by wearing computer glasses with a blue light filter coating. Another way to cut the impact of blue light is to take a break from electronic devices after every 20 minutes. This will help your optic nerves and muscles relax.
There is still much discussion going on about the real effect of blue light on our bodies and minds. But meanwhile, it helps to keep the impact of blue-white light to a minimum. And doing this is fairly easy. You can go to your iPhone's or iPad's settings. In the menu 'display and brightness', you will find 'Night Shift'. Tap on it, and it will filter the blue light of your screen.
This night light feature is also available in Windows 10. You can set timings that are suitable for your working hours. Toggle a bit and see where you feel comfortable with the color temperature.
For Android devices, you can find 'Eye Comfort Shield' in the display setting. Keep the dark mode on after evening. You can even set a bedtime mode before you go to sleep.
You can find and install more of such blue light filter apps. In case your smartphone doesn’t have an in-built one.
When you are the last one leaving the office almost every day, you should try working with F.lux on a computer. Especially when you are working in a lesser illuminated section of your home or your office, you need to cut down on blue-light consumption. Just like your phone and tablet, you can adjust the light tone on your laptop too.
There are more such applications for your desktop and laptops that you can install. Amongst them, the good ones are:
It keeps on adjusting the color temperature depending upon the time of the day. You can set different color temperatures for day and night with ease.
It can generate dark themes for websites right when needed. So even if you are burning the midnight oil, you can use the night mode. It comes with adjustable brightness and contrast.
You can set your night preset in this application. It is less intrusive and comes with a smooth transition from sunrise to sunset. Needless to say, you can set the brightness as per your choice.
It seems strange that one should read about getting ‘ample’ sunlight in an article that talks about reducing light exposure before bed. But exposure to daylight is important. It elevates our mood, reduces our stress, and improves our cognition and learning. Sunlight therapy is not hitting the beach in the summer season, but it is about getting out each morning to greet the sun. Even a 20-minute walk in the morning sun can help reduce depression and sleep disorders.
Electronic devices and indoor lighting are inseparable from our modern existence. Artificial lights enable us in the dark. They improve visibility, safety, and comfort for us. The blue-white light has entertained us and boosted our productivity. It has kept us alert with notifications.
The sheer possibility of illuminated nights has changed the fate and the scale of humanity. But at what cost?
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We are sleeping less. We are working more. And we are finding it difficult to engage and truly admire the beauty of leisure and laying still for a while. We need to stop and appreciate the beauty of darkness.
Try these tips, and you’d soon be extending these useful pieces of advice to your loved ones.