Categories: Sleep Science

LED Lights and Sleep

It doesn’t take much to throw your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal sleep clock) completely off balance. Unfortunately, once you’ve done that, it can take quite a while to get your rhythm back so you can get a good night’s sleep once again. The really strange news, however, is that your alarm clock may even be one of the culprits keeping you up nights.

Blue Lights May be Keeping You up Nights

It’s true! According to Harvard Health Publications, there is a dark side to blue lights. At least, that’s the case when it comes to sleep. Most people are aware that white light of any kind suppresses the body’s ability to produce melatonin. What most people are surprised to discover, however, is that blue lights are even more powerful at keeping people awake than the white lights.

The research conducted at Harvard reveals that after six and a half hours of exposure to light, the blue light suppressed the production of melatonin nearly twice as long as green light managed to. However, it was the shift in circadian rhythms that really made an impression. The difference was one and a half hours versus three hours.

Melatonin Woes

What’s the big deal about melatonin? How important is it? Anyone suffering through long-term sleep deprivation has to be asking these very questions. Melatonin is something the body normally produces that triggers sleep. According to Science Daily, bright lights have a significant and detrimental impact on your body’s ability to generate a sufficient amount of melatonin to promote sleep.

In fact, Science Daily claims, “Exposure to the light of white LED bulbs, it turns out, suppresses melatonin 5 times more than exposure to the light of high pressure sodium bulbs that give off an orange-yellow light.”

The Quest for Sleep is Boldly Going On

While few men or women have made the journey into space, among those who have, insomnia on the space shuttle is widespread. NASA scientists believe that part of the problem is the constant presence of bright LED lights on board various space shuttles and stations.

Of course, NASA (being filled with brilliant scientists) figured out that the white and blue lights on board the shuttles were the problems, and that there is a way to solve these problems. The solution comes in the form of NASA’s new sleep light that’s supposed to help astronauts sleep sounder while in space.

The bottom line is that LED lights aren’t painting a pretty picture for your odds of a good night’s sleep tonight. What’s the solution for your sleep problems? Clear the LED lights out of your sleeping space. You should take extra precautions to get rid of blue lights, white lights, and blinking lights that could signal your brain that it should be waking up throughout the night.

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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