The simple change that can help you sleep better
From blue lighting to red, making this simple switch can go a long way in helping you get better sleep.
We’ve all known for years that watching TV or staring at our phones is bad for our sleep.
Of course, this didn’t stop us. It merely made us worry while we did it, further affecting our sleep.
Scientists at Harvard University have discovered that blue light can suppress the excretion of melatonin, which is unfortunate, considering it’s not just the displays of screens that put out this cool light, but energy-saving light globes, too.
The constant connection to our screen is seriously affecting our sleep, according to psychologist Belinda Williams.
“If you have screens and blue light right up until you go to bed, it’s similar to having lots of coffee or sugar,” she says.
“We also know exercising late in the evening can impact your quality of sleep because the nervous system is more alert.”
Blue light is great during the day because it keeps you alert and your reaction times quick. But keeping your melatonin suppressed could increase your risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity.
At least technology giveth and not just taketh away. Colour-changing light globes are leading the charge towards more controlled sleep patterns without having to give up midnight Netflix binges while scrolling through Twitter.
Make the (lighting) change
All you need to do is change your lights to red before bed, according to Belinda.
“It’s called red lighting, but it’s not a brothel red light, and you can use that as a cue for your body clock to move into a more sleepy state,” she says.
“If we use lighting strategically to help us move into a more relaxed zone, we can improve our quality of sleep. If we can use our environment to trigger our nervous system, we can tap into our internal workings and influence our body clocks. It’s not only about the hours in bed, it’s about the quality of the rest in bed.”
There’s no hard and fast rule about how long before sleep you should change to red light, but at least 30 minutes is the latest advice.
That said, blue light isn’t all bad, all the time. “Screens and televisions have more of a blue tone of light, and what that does is stimulate the nervous system to be more wakeful and alert. As a result of that, you should use that in the morning to help kick-start the day,” Belinda says.
And it’s not just sleep these smart globes are helping with.
“Smart lighting gives people the ability to exercise more control. Rather than it just being light on, light off, they can use it to enhance performance and recovery, and also in terms of boosting wellbeing,” she says.
“The more we have control over our environment, the greater our overall wellbeing and less psychological distress. Some will say technology isn’t helping us, but I think this is a way that we can use technology to help us.”
Written by Alice Clark