Numerous studies indicate that blue light exposure is a leading contributor to the interruption of sleep patterns and insomnia.A University of Haifa study published three significant results of nighttime blue light exposure including:
- shortened overall sleep time
- reduced sleep quality, due to more frequent awakenings
- suppressed melatonin production.
It is the last item on their list that we need to examine more closely, because blue light exposure dangers and suppressed melatonin production go far beyond insomnia.
What is melatonin and what does it do?
Melatonin is a hormone that is primarily produced by the neurotransmitter serotonin in the pineal gland. It is best known as the “sleep hormone” because it helps the body to relax and helps it to achieve a state of uninterrupted REM sleep. There are other significant functions of melatonin that are often overlooked; including:
- Modulating steroid hormones like cortisol and noradrenalin, which have can reduce the effect of the mood neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
- Regulating immune cells response and provide the proper inflammatory response to wounds and injuries.
- Maintaining proper body temperature, which tends to be one of the factors related to sleep quality.
- Aids in the regulating estrogen levels and menstrual cycles.
- Acts as a powerful antioxidant.
You can already identify how a deficiency of melatonin might affect weight gain, menstrual cycles and immunity, but there are some greater dangers associated with melatonin deficiency.
What are the dangers of melatonin deficiency?
Not getting enough sleep has some pretty dangerous consequences by itself, but several other dangerous health risks go beyond sleep disorders. Here are some that are included on an Institute of Health Sciences list:
- Behavior Changes and Mood Disorders. Decreased melatonin levels tend to be present in patients suffering from depression or panic disorders.
- Increased Cancer Risk. Because of its effects on immune response and its antioxidant properties, reduced levels of melatonin can lead to a greater risk of developing cancer.
- Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Decreased melatonin increases nighttime sympathetic nerve activity and the increased circulation of adrenalin and noradrenalin can weaken blood vessel walls.
With these risks in mind, it makes sense to prevent melatonin deficiency.
The response of most people is to simply take a melatonin capsule to increase their melatonin levels, but decreasing blue light exposure is a much simpler and more effective solution. Here are three suggestions to decrease blue light exposure:
- Avoid Exposure to Bright Screens. Avoid watch television, looking at your cell phone, computer screen, or any other bright screen right before bedtime.
- Filter Out Blue Light. If nighttime exposure to blue light is impossible, a pair of blue light blocking glasses is your best bet.
- Red Light Nightlights. Red light is a friend to melatonin. If you need a nightlight, make sure it produces red light instead of blue light.
Getting a good night’s sleep is certainly a priority when it comes to your health, but of equal importance is maintaining proper melatonin levels to prevent additional, more dangerous consequences. Decrease your blue light exposure by following our list of suggestions and get your hands on a pair of computer glasses for those occasions when you cannot avoid blue light exposure.