LED lights have almost become the norm when it comes to interior and exterior lighting fixtures. They have replaced traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs in most parts of the world. They are not only superior in terms of power consumption but are also far safer than other types of bulbs, making them ideal for home and professional use.
Like all artificial lights, LED lights also have a significant effect on our sleeping patterns. Our biological clock operates in a particular way partly by the quantity and quality of light in our environment. The rhythms with which our biological clock operates is called the circadian rhythm and controls various processes such as brain activity, metabolism, sleeping, and more.
Artificial lights like LEDs disrupt the above process and leads to various health consequences that build up over time. Therefore, no matter what type of light you use, it is imperative to never allow yourself to be exposed to them for very long periods.
How Does LED Light Affect Our Sleep?
Light, whether it is natural or artificial, is first detected by our retina which then sends the information via electrochemical signals to our brain.
So when it is night, our retina informs our brain that the amount of light is low which triggers the body into producing sleep hormones like melatonin and lowering our body temperature.
During the daytime, the opposite happens and our body prepares itself to be awake and alert.
So how do LED and other types of artificial light disrupt the sleeping process? By using LED lights at night before bed, the retina detects the presence of light at all times even once it gets dark outside. Due to this, the brain is unable to understand when to start preparing the body for sleep and relaxation.
Certain studies have shown that the use of artificial light has led to the body suppressing up to 85 percent of melatonin which is quite worrying.
What’s troubling about LEDs compared to other types of bulbs is that it generates mostly blue wavelength light. Out of all the different wavelengths, our retina is more sensitive to blue light and so the brain ends up getting tricked that there is more light in the environment.
This leads to our body further suppressing the production of melatonin. Due to this, even though our body may be tired, we don’t feel sleepy which in turn causes our body and mind to get more tired.
Negative Effects of Losing Your Sleep from LEDs
A lot of people underestimate the consequences of a disrupted sleep pattern as they feel they can compensate over the next few days. However, a disrupted sleep pattern can lead to far more issues than feeling tired.
Over time it can lead to your body becoming weaker and susceptible to illnesses, memory impairment, irritability, and a host of other health issues.
Moreover, consistently sleeping on time every day can also help to prevent cancer as melatonin has been known to fight off the deadly disease. Inconsistent and weak sleep patterns may also lead to various mental consequences such as depression, mental fatigue, and more.
Some studies have also discovered that if you get less sleep, you may end up eating more the following day. This in turn will lead to a different timing for your meals which will cause metabolism issues. Hence having a good night’s sleep can also help a little to prevent obesity.
Other dangerous health issues that may occur due to consistently reduced sleep are high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
For more on these negative effects, check out this article.
How Can We Reduce the Effects of LED Lights During Sleep
Although we can’t completely do away with using LED lights in our homes, there are a few ways in which we can minimize the damage. Here are some of them.
- Turn them off at least an hour before you plan to sleep – Never go to sleep with the lights on as your sleep will get disrupted. The less light there is when you go to sleep, the faster you will feel sleepy and refresh your body. If you have children who cannot go to sleep without a little bit of light, then you can use a night lamp but make sure it is placed in such a way that light won’t directly hit their face. Also, make sure that the light is dim.
- Never use mobile phones, tablets, and laptops right before going to sleep – LED light gets emitted not only from light fixtures but also from various electronic devices that utilize an LED display screen. Watching content on your phone right before going to sleep can cause a lot of health consequences down the line.
- If possible, go for smart lights in your home so you can program them to start dimming from a set point of time – This helps to mimic the decrease of light in the real world which will trigger your body into producing sleep hormones. This may not be possible for everyone but if you have the means, you should go for it.
- If you use smartphones and tablets profusely during the day, install a good app to filter out blue light – Over time, it will work wonders for you and your body as your retina will be less exposed to the shorter blue wavelength light.
- Use a sleep mask when you go to bed to block out light completely – This will trigger your body into producing melatonin which will not only give you a great night’s sleep but also boost your health and immunity.
Blue light emitted from LEDs lead to disruptions in our sleeping patterns but they also help in boosting our attention, better reaction times, and making us alert. So it’s not necessarily bad for you during the daytime. At nights, however, it is a different story as it leads to several health consequences.
The key to maintaining great health is, as in all other things, balance. Knowing when to reduce exposure to blue light and when to let it help you is extremely important.
Our bodies were not made to handle artificial things including light. So we need to be more respectful towards what our body wants and act appropriately.