#63 Fatal Conveniences™: Blue Light: How Much is Too Much?

#63 Fatal Conveniences™: Blue Light: How Much is Too Much?

Do you scroll through Instagram before bed? Do you check your email or look over the next day’s workload on your laptop? All the blue light emitting from your devices could be messing with your sleep and weakening your eyesight.

Welcome to Fatal Conveniences

Natural blue light is good for you. However, artificial blue light can be a problem.

Blue rays of light contain a ton of energy. This energy can elevate your mood, boost your memory and stimulate cognitive function. All this is amazing, if it’s the middle of the day. But if the blue light is artificial and coming at you at night, you may be setting yourself up for some pesky problems.

In this segment, I break down what artificial blue light does to your body. But don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your devices. I just want you to be aware that there are small, easy things you can do to cut down on all that unnecessary blue light exposure. We get into circadian rhythms, melatonin, appetite, metabolism and other body functions that are affected by blue light. And as always, I give you plenty of tips to change your habits. 

Other info in this segment:
  • Red rays vs. blue rays
  • The power of sunlight
  • All the devices that emit blue light
  • Circadian rhythm and sleep cycles
  • The role of melatonin
  • How to avoid blue light at night
  • Blue light glasses
Links & Resources:

Environmental Health Perspectives Journal: What’s in a Color: The Human Health Effects of Blue Light

Sleep Research Journal by f.lux

Blue Light Blocking Glasses: A Definitive Guide by Live Vitae 

Listen to Matt Meruca on The Darin Olien Show – All about why we need sunlight!

RA Optics – Buy Blue Light Filtering glasses at 10% with code DARIN

Therasage

EP#62 April Nemeth on Accessible Sustainability Through Art and Design

Netflix’ Down To Earth’ Official Trailer

The Darin Olien Show is produced by the team at Must Amplify. If you’re looking to give a voice to your brand, and make sure that it’s heard by the right people, head to www.mustamplify.com/darin to see what Amplify can do for you.

Episode Transcript

Darin: It’s that time of the week for another fatal convenience. This is a bite-size segment that addresses some of society’s fatal conveniences and the steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of them. I define fatal conveniences as the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to, tap water, shampoo, sunglasses, food. I dive into the hidden truths behind some of our everyday choices that could not only be harming us but even killing us, so let’s dive in.

Darin: Hey, everybody, welcome to the show. Thanks for tuning in. We are talking about light, we’re talking about blue light, we’re talking about natural light. And I am literally recording this sitting outside looking at my computer, but certainly better for my eyes to get all of this light therapy from the sun, from nature, not being afraid of it, absorbing it, better for the eyes, better for the skin. It’s a beautiful day in California right now. So this fatal convenience is the dark side of artificial blue light. And we’re really starting to scratch at the surface of light in general. It’s a big topic, so I’m gonna keep it centered to blue light, and what it does, and how it affects you and your circadian rhythms, how it affects you and your children, eyesight, and macular degeneration. So we have to understand that as part of the human life and living on earth and this white light that we get right from the sun, and really, from all sources has blue light in it. And the problem is we’ve created artificial light at higher and higher levels through our screens through our devices, and we’re staring at them all the time. So we’re starting to see some downsides of this artificial creation. Obviously, that’s a fatal convenience and how it relates to our health and our life and our children. Okay, so what is blue light? We know that the sun is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet light. It’s combined with all of it, and it becomes white, so essentially white light. But within that, it has the energy the wavelengths and understanding that the rays on the red end have longer wavelengths and less energy. So longer waves, less energy. On the other end, blue rays have shorter wavelengths and more energy. So just keep that in mind. Blue light has shorter waves and more energy. Light that looks white can have a large blue component, which can expose the eye in higher amounts of wavelengths from the blue end of the spectrum. So to reiterate, the largest source of natural blue light is the sun. So we don’t want to demonize blue light, but it’s just that man has created more blue light. So how have we created these things, fluorescent lights, compact fluorescent light bulbs, LED lights, even though it takes less energy, keep in mind, there’s a strong artificial blue light component, flatscreen LEDs, computer monitors, smart tablets, phones, all of these screens, etc. So the history a little bit is kind of interesting. So in the 1960s, the red light was invented by accident from a guy,

Nick Holonyak, an American scientist at General Electric. Green and yellow lights were then added to the mix and several applications including, well, the traffic lights according to the DOE. The blue LED was created in the early 1990s only, and a group of Japanese and American scientists for which they won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. The blue light allowed scientists to create white light and white light bulbs by coating the diodes with phosphor. The exposure to natural blue light isn’t necessary for good health. So we have to keep in mind, again, we don’t want to demonize it, it’s just overexposure of it because blue light does boost alertness, helps memory, and cognitive function, and elevates mood now. Keep that in mind, if it boosts memory and cognitive function and elevates mood, well, do the math. Having blue light exposure before you go to bed, bad idea. We’ll get into that a little bit more. It regulates circadian rhythm, the body’s natural wake. Okay, so that’s fine. So if you’re getting blue light exposure, especially from nature, and a little bit of your screen in the morning, that’s actually boosting you up and getting your circadian rhythm going. Exposure to blue light in daytime hours helps maintain healthy circadian rhythms. Too much exposure of the blue light at night, see, this is where it comes in, through smart tablets and computers and all that disturbs the wake-sleep cycle. And that then leads to obviously, circadian disruption, and therefore, your body can’t sleep all that well. And so when you’re overexposed to blue light, some of the things that can happen is you start blinking and your eyes kind of hurt and there’s pain. And the natural aversion to white light also creates pupil constriction, which again, overexposure over time certainly can hurt that. Globally, it has been estimated that 80% of the population is polluted with artificial light. And regions in the North America and Europe are estimated 99% of us are polluted with artificial light that are changing our circadian rhythms. 90% of Americans use some form of electronics, at least a few nights per week within an hour of bedtime, and that’s really where it’s coming into the effect. And then if you have LED lights, and you’re turning on all the lights, and it’s already dark out, now you’re changing all of that. Then LED lights are again a great from an energy perspective and the amount of energy that creates to create light. But from a health perspective, that’s where it’s really providing more of the artificial overexposure of blue lights, and there was 9% of the share of the light market, and that was 2011. And now, it’s up to 45%. So everyone’s like, hey, it’s better, more energy-efficient but now it’s more exposure to the blue lights. And now we’re at 69% of the people in 2020, this study showed. So what makes it convenient, obviously, with the amount of electricity and all of that stuff, all of the tablets, all of that stuff, we definitely need. And the short term of blue light exposure is it gives us energy and boosts our performance. But then over the long term, it’s messing us up, we’re not allowing to sleep. And if we’re not allowing to sleep, our immune system plummets. And now it’s opening us up to viruses, bacteria, colds, flus, you name it. This is why we should care. We need to expose ourselves more to the natural light because some of the studies suggest that not enough exposure of sunlight in our children could affect the growth of development of their vision. This was a study I’ll have in the show notes. Not getting enough sun could also increase the risk of myopia, which is nearsightedness in teens and young adults. Harvard researchers and colleagues conducted experiments comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light, to exposure of green light and comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythm by twice as much from three hours versus 1.5. So that really has a massive impact on the circadian rhythm which directly affects our hormonal system, directly affects our sleep cycles, and indirectly affects our immune system. So there was a [00:09:03] and colleagues at the center of study of sleep and biology rhythms at the University of Montreal showed through EEG that light exposure reduced Alpha Theta low-frequency activity in the brain, which correlates directly to sleep. In 2010, a study published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that compared with dim light exposure to room light before bedtime, just light, full light, artificial light before bedtime suppressed melatonin, resulting in later melatonin onset by 99%. So massively shifted melatonin. When your melatonin kicks in, that’s when you start getting tired and it shortened the melatonin duration by about 90%. Also exposure to room light, during usual sleep hours suppress melatonin by greater than 50%, some even up to 85%. That is crazy. And so there’s many studies on artificial lights as it related to shift workers. You know some of those shift workers that work all night, in 2007, the World Health Organization decreed that shift workers is at high-risk factor for breast cancer also disrupted human circadian rhythms as a probable human carcinogen. This was done by the WHO. So now circadian rhythms and light is a possible human carcinogen, you hear me? So please shut off your devices get to sleep. Some of these studies show the deleterious effects of shift workers. And this is just a big example of not going to sleep and overexposure to the unnatural light when you’re supposed to be sleeping, increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin sensitivity, pre-diabetes, increased depression, fatigue-related accidents, the metabolism gets totally thrown off. A new study suggests that blue light rich exposure immediately before and during evening meal may also increase hunger and alter metabolism. It was very interesting, this is a quote, “To observe that a single three-hour exposure of blue light rich light in the evening, acutely impacted hunger and glucose metabolism.” Okay, so this is done by the northern University in Chicago. Exposure of blue light in the evening also LED increased high peak levels of glucose, which makes it increasingly difficult for insulin to stabilize later in the day. Problem is insulin also helps to take fats and is involved in fat storage of that hormone. And the more that exposure you have, the more it throws off the body’s ability to burn off fat. Our findings show that the insulin was unable to acutely bring glucose levels back to baseline levels following a meal with bright light exposure in the evening, people if you have a hard time getting rid of weight, and you’re eating late at night, number one, not great. Number two, eating with artificial light, definitely affecting insulin sensitivity, the body’s ability to get rid of fat, and sends off a cacophony of issues. I’ve more and more studies related to this in the show notes. Researchers at Harvard put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a pre-diabetic state and levels of leptin, which basically tells your body when it’s full, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal went down. So just 10 people gradually shifting the time that they’re eating when they’re exposed to this light, put them in pre-diabetic syndrome. This is horrible. And there’s a whole section here in the show notes on digital eyestrain as it relates to blue light. I’m just going to pause it there. Here’s what you can do. Small changes added up over time make big differences. So do your best to limit your exposure of artificial light at night. That is your biggest thing that you can do to help yourself. This will help you sleep. This will help from eyestrain. This will help from your mood as you get better sleep and doesn’t throw off your circadian rhythm. It will help you balance out your hormones and allow you to get rid of excess weight. Avoiding looking at bright screens, two to three hours before bed, shut off your computer, shut off your phone, put them away. And then also another thing you can do is increasing your time in nature get around natural light. A 2013 study from the University of Colorado Boulder examined how camping affects circadian rhythm. They found that participants who camped for a week notice major improvements in sleep patterns in circadian biology, such as the melatonin levels of subjects of this study rose two hours earlier when camping than on regular nights around artificial lights. So it throws our bodies rhythm completely off. Use natural lights. Don’t use Lights, use candle light. At night, this is the most important thing, lower your exposure to artificial lights, shut off your lights. When the sun goes down, keep your lights off, turn on candles, it’s awesome with your partner, it’s romantic, it’s better for your children. You can also turn on red lights, red lights are awesome. There’s great companies, Theraesage, good friends of mine have a great red light. I have an affiliate link at darinolien.com, Therasage, they got a red light producing based in science, pad that you can throw up on the wall and just put red light into your room. It creates a little light if you don’t have candles that can light everything up. And then use night mode on all of your devices. You can easily program your mobile phones and your iPads to using night mode. It shuts off the blue light, and there are screen filters, there are screen apps. And then, of course, Ra Optics, Matt Maruca, who I’ve had on, you can use blue-blocking lights and also red lights. So there are blue blockers, but there are also red light glasses. If you have lights on, you can at least put the red filter glasses over your eyes. So that’s it. Easy things to do, makes powerful effects on your sleep. This is so important for us as a society moving forward as obviously we’re not getting rid of devices. We just have to be smarter, and you’re smart. And you can do this through different habits that are changing the trajectory of yourself now and into the future so you have a healthier, happier, more productive life. You know where I’m coming from. I love you. I respect you. I wish nothing but the best for you. Great for tuning in. Thanks for taking the time. I also just want to say thank you. Thank you for following us. Thank you for listening in. And please follow us. There’s fatalconveniences.com, you can go there, subscribe, get on our newsletter, darinolien.com, subscribe, get our newsletter, join. We’ve got other information that we send out, but I just really want to say thank you. So tell your friends, tell your parents, tell your children, tell everybody. These fatal conveniences can save your life over time, so that you have less degeneration happening. So that you have more energy to live the kick-ass life that you’re here to live, so just follow us, sign up for our newsletter letter, fatalconveniences.com, darinolien.com, and we love you.

Darin: Thanks for tuning in everyone. I hope that left you feeling inspired to take a closer look at the everyday choices you’re making and how they could be impacting your health and even the planet. If you want to learn more about life’s fatal conveniences, head over to fatalconveniences.com. You can sign up for the exclusive access to Fatal Conveniences episodes, news, insights, and more. And all this great stuff gets sent each week straight to your inbox, making it really easy. Now, that’s a convenience without the negative side effects. It only takes a few seconds to join. Just fill in the form and take that amazing step towards making better choices. Remember, small changes can have big impact. So, keep diving my friends, keep diving. And if you haven’t had a chan

April Nemeth: I’ve read multiple articles about how the word sustainability is kind of archaic. And I feel like yes and no. To us, maybe, but the masses don’t know what that word even means yet. And then now we have sustainability and we have organic and we have regenerative. What is regenerative? People are just like, I give up. Like I don’t know what any of this stuff is. I don’t know what to do with it. And that’s part of my commitment with these companies to really share these practices so people know we can’t make these big movements without everyone involved. We can’t.

Darin: This episode is produced by my team at Must Amplify, an audio marketing company that specializes in giving a voice to a brand and making sure the right people hear it. If you would like or are thinking about doing a podcast or even would like a strategy session to add your voice to your brand in a powerful way, go to www.mustamplify.com/darin. That’s www.mustamplify.com/darin.

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