#5 Less ALAN, More Time
Updated: Jan 14, 2020
Blue light toxicity series
Given the health tolls artificial lights at night (ALAN) imposed on us (read blog #2 for details), ponder this, do they really give us more time to interact with life, or do they take time away from our lives? I hope the latter is your answer. To allow our body and mind to function as they are designed to, reducing blue light toxicity is a must.
If you want more time, more quality time in life, here are some practical tips to help you mitigate ALAN.
1. Rest and rise with the sun
All of us have a 24-hour internal clock, also known as the sleep/wake cycle. This clock is turned on and off by the light frequencies that our eyes and skin detect. The frequencies from the sunrise signal wakefulness and alertness for us to get ready for the day. After sunset, the darkness sensed sends signals to our brain that’s the time for sleep. That’s how the body works. Staying up late at night under ALAN creates mismatch of the circadian rhythm, making our body system less efficient in doing what they do.
I hear you say, but I have a busy life and so much to do, I can’t just rest after the sun goes down, or the sun rises too early, I’d rather sleep. The truth is, everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, it’s your choice as what to do with them. Numerous studies show rising and resting early boosts mental clarity, productivity and energy tremendously.
Having said that, there are a number of ways for you night owls to enjoy busy modern life with minimal ALAN toxicity.
2. Get plenty of AM sun
Own the morning, own your health. Every morning, when your skin and eyes are exposed to sunlight, your body increases its production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates everything from mood to sleep. It is also a precursor to melatonin, which is needed for deep restorative sleep. Serotonin is converted into melatonin after 3-4 hours of darkness, helping us sleep later that night. More AM sunlight, more melatonin.
3. Avoid melatonin-destructive lighting
In comparison to modern LED and fluorescent light bulbs, incandescent light is the best of the worst in terms of suppressing melatonin (40% vs 80%). Candles and fire are the best (less than 2%). Furthermore, these lights emit red and orange glows that create a more intimate and calm atmosphere and make us look more attractive. Who would say no to that?
4. Wear blue light blocking glasses
After sunset, exposure to ALAN should be minimal. Wearing blue light blocking glasses will protect you from these harmful light frequencies hence your melatonin production. Popularity of these glasses has risen considerably over the past few years. You can find all kinds on the internet, from as cheap as USD$10 to luxury selections around USD$200. Do your research and buy from reputable sources only.
5. Install IRIS software on computers
If you must work on computers at night, IRIS software is proven to block all blue light frequencies emitted from your computer screen. Give the free trial a go before your commitment. The installation of the software is very affordable (one time investment of USD$15 as of 2019) and easy to use.
6. Block blue light on smart devices
Given how much time we spend on our smartphones and Ipads, it’s only sensible to block ALAN from these devices. In fact, there is an inbuilt functionality for this in Iphones and Ipads. Google “block blue light from Iphone”, you will find plenty of demonstration videos on this, or watch this video from Matt Maruca https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ji1hEpotd0. It’s fairly easy to follow. For Android devices, IRIS mini works perfectly.
7. Cover your skin at night
Melanopsin, a retinal protein, is the key driver in setting of our circadian rhythms. It is particularly sensitive to the absorption of blue light and will communicate these light frequencies to the central clock and peripheral oscillator clocks. Until 2017 we thought that melanopsin only existed in the eyes of humans. It is now evident that it was present in the skin and fat cells and can translate light signals even if we block blue light from entering our eyes. In a simpler term, wear as little as possible when the sun is up, and cover up as much as possible when the sun is down.