Blue Lights and Melatonin

You may not realize that the human body is regulated by hormones, one of them is Melatonin.

What is melatonin: it is a hormone made by the pineal gland (a small gland in the brain) and helps control our sleep and wake cycles (circadian rhythm).  Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours. We can take melatonin supplements to aid us in falling asleep and has been used traditionally by people that work at night and need to sleep during the day.  (WebMD)

The Harvard Health Letter updated September 2, 2015 http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side discussed what makes our natural Melatonin levels drop creating sleeping problems.  They discussed our daily rhythms influenced by light and how this affects our health risks (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity).

 

What is blue light?  Blue light is emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs.  All light can affect melatonin but the blue light suppresses melatonin for about twice as long as green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much. Blue wavelengths during daylight hours boost our attention, reaction times, and mood.  Hence they should be avoided in the evening and definitely to sleep well. 

What can you do to maintain healthy melatonin levels?

1. Use dim red lights for night lights, red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin

2. Avoid looking at bright screens beginning 2-3 hours before bed.  I downloaded the android app “Twilight” it turns by cellphone screen a reddish color and I have noticed a difference in just a few nights. I’m able to fall asleep sooner.  Kindle and Apple products have similar apps.  Think about it do you really need to Tweet, Facebook, or check your email before you fall asleep while your brain is trying to tune everything down so you can get a healthy therapeutic sleep to be at your best for the next day…

3. If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses

4. Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night

I don’t know about you, but I cherish my sleep so Blue Lights out baby.

Happy Dreams


Article Written by Debbie Herrera, CNS, NP for La Mer Integrative & Behavioral Medical Group

Debbie Herrera is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and COO of La Mer Integrative & Behavioral Medical Group. After she received her degree from UCLA, she specialized in psychiatry with Dr. Jerry R. Bruns.  Her focus is with Alzheimer’s patients and developmentally delayed patients regarding behavioral management issues. Debbie is dedicated to our community.  She is a member of the Ventura County Alzheimer’s Medical Advisory Board, member of Rotary Club, and actively educates professionals in behavioral medicine.