The number of people that I encounter on a daily basis who struggle with sleep (myself included at times) is astounding. With our busy, go-go-go lifestyles though, it's no wonder that we struggle with sleep. Society has set us up to fail when it comes to getting the quality sleep our bodies desperately need to repair and recover.
One of the biggest hindrances to quality sleep is blue light, which is emitted from electronics (phone, TV, iPad, computers, etc). Not only do most of us sit glued to a screen of some sort during the day, but we also come home after work or school and sit ourselves in front of another screen to "relax" or "unwind" before bed. Unfortunately, this does the exact opposite of what we need it to do.
You see, the blue light that is emitted from these electronics messes with our hormones, specifically melatonin. Melatonin is commonly known as our sleep hormone (but it also has a multitude of other functions as well - another post for another day), and it is effected negatively by the excess blue light in our lives.
Melatonin and cortisol, our stress hormone, are antagonists. Cortisol is meant to be higher in the morning to wake us up and falls throughout the day as melatonin rises to help us fall asleep at night. This delicate balance often becomes dysregulated due to stress, blood sugar dysregulation, hormone imbalance, and yes, excess blue light exposure, as blue light suppresses melatonin.
Why is this a problem? If we are on electronics before bed, we are suppressing the very hormone we need to get to sleep. And when we don't get enough sleep, we have a host of other issues pop up including digestive dysfunction, blood sugar imbalances, energy dips and spikes, sugar cravings, mood swings, depression, anxiety, weight loss resistance, and hormone imbalances (just to name a few).
So what can we do about it?
First, invest in a pair of blue-light blocking glasses to wear at night, about two hours before bed. These will block the blue light if you choose to use electronics. Here are a couple of options to consider for all price ranges:
1. Affordable but silly looking
2. Moderate looking and wearable
3. Investment, but totally worth it
Second, you can install software on your phone/computer to dim the brightness and blue light at night. F.lux is the one that I use.
Lastly, the easiest solution is to STOP using electronics 30-60 minutes before bed. It's that simple. Find other ways to unwind like reading a physical book (not a kindle, defeats the purpose), journaling, taking a bath, or talking with your loved ones.
Making sleep a priority isn't always easy, but in the long run, it will be well worth it! Give one or more of these tips a try to reduce your blue light exposure and see what happens!