We live in a world where we are exposed to more light than ever before, especially after sundown. This increased exposure to light in the evening can interfere with our day-night body clock (Circadian rhythm) by suppressing the secretion of melatonin.
Jan 25th, 2019
We live in a world where we are exposed to more light than ever before, especially after sundown. This increased exposure to light in the evening can interfere with our day-night body clock (Circadian rhythm) by suppressing the secretion of melatonin. Melatonin is key for maintaining the Circadian rhythm and getting a good nights sleep. Studies have indicated that low melatonin levels may be linked to many chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cancer in addition to disrupting sleep.
Not all types of light have the same effect in suppressing melatonin secretion. Blue light appears to be especially problematic in this regard. Sources of blue night include the sun, LED lights, fluorescent lights and electronic devices (smart phones, tablet and laptops). Exposure to blue light during the day can help increase alertness and boost mood, however continued exposure through the evening can suppress melatonin and lead to poor sleep.
Here’s what you can do:
- Avoid using devices like smart phones, tablets and computers 2 hours before bedtime
- Try a low brightness setting for devices in the evening
- Use blue light blocking glasses, which can be used over your regular eyeglasses
- Use screen covers that block blue light
- Get lots of sun during the day
Sayanti Bhattacharya, MD, MS, is a board-certified adult psychiatrist at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Dr. Bhattacharya lends a wealth of experience in the treatment of anxiety, depression, sleep issues, memory problems, trauma-related stress disorders, and attention deficit disorders. She is also experienced working with people who have challenges with interpersonal communication, social anxiety, low self-esteem, overwhelming negative thinking, and sleep problems. She works with patients via both telemedicine and in person.