Why Reducing Exposure to Blue Light Improves Your Sleep

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

Worldwide, people spend anywhere from 3 to over 8 hours looking at the screens of various electronic devices. The average person in the U.S. experiences about 7.4 hours of screen time from phones, tablets, tv's and computers throughout the day and night. Unfortunately, all of these screens emit blue light — a wavelength of light that can disrupt our sleep cycles.

Blue light causes this disruption by primarily suppressing the important sleep hormone, melatonin. Ideally, you should reduce your exposure to these devices (especially around bedtime). However, for some of us it's just not possible to avoid those screens But the good news is there ARE ways to reduce your exposure to blue light without living in the dark:

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

One way to block the blue light and still see the rest of the light spectrum from your screen is to wear blue blocking glasses.

These orange-lensed glasses can be worn in the evening and will help to reduce the effect that blue light has on your body's production of melatonin.

Screen Shields

These accessories are placed over your devices screen, and block block blue light by filtering it out before it leaves the device.

These may be easier to use for those who already wear glasses or who will forget to wear blue blocking glasses in the evening. Like other stick-on screen protectors, these are simply applied to the screen and are removable.

Turn Down the Brightness

When you use your computer, phone or tablet in the evenings, keeping the brightness as low as possible can help reduce your exposure to blue light. The brightness of the screen can amplify the intensity, color, duration and pattern of light that leaves your device, and can be an important factor in determining how your eye responds to light. emissions.

When using your device, especially at night, lowering the brightness, and utilizing the reading or “evening” modes can decrease the amount of light that hits the back of our eyes. Reducing the brightness can also work to reduce harmful eye strain.

There's an App for That

There are now apps that will reduce the amount of blue light that you see from your computer, tablet or phone. Installing an app like f.lux to your device will change the colors that your phone emits so that you get less of the light that may be keeping you awake.

Low Blue Light Bulbs

Many energy-efficient light bulbs emit a high level of blue light but there are specialty bulbs available that are designed to reduce the amount of blue light that is emitted.

These can be used full-time in your home, or in place of other lighting. For example, you could install a low blue light bulb in a lamp on your bedroom dresser and use only that light in the half an hour or so before bed.

A cheaper alternative would be to use yellow light bulbs since these emit minimal levels of blue light.

As a reminder, reducing blue light exposure is just one part of a healthy bedtime routine. It is important to reduce overall activity, stress, and work prior to bed when possible to have an easy transition into sleep.

  • Blue Light and Sleep: Chronobiology International: The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research. (2016). "Protective Effect of Blue-light Shield Eyewear for Adults against Light Pollution from Self-luminous Devices Used at Night."
Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.