Updated: May 12
Sleep is a critical time for our body to perform vital housekeeping and reparative processes. In scientific terminology, these are known as autophagy and apoptosis. The hormone melatonin is a key driver of these processes and others. Interestingly, it has now been shown in the scientific literature that we regenerate our melatonin supply when morning sunlight hits our eyes, and we release it later in the day, approximately four hours after our bodies have experienced very low light or darkness.
In the modern world, we are confronted virtually everywhere by lights and screens that emit an alien spectrum in comparison to sunlight. Lightbulbs, computer screens, phones, headlights, street lamps, appliance displays, and many others. In fact, the alien frequencies of light these things emit is quite excessive in blue, and severely lacking in red. See the chart below comparing modern light sources with the sun. Blue frequencies of light are always found with red in sunlight. Blue by itself is a distinct signal to our bodies to be awake, and perform all of the processes associated with that behavior. Based on that, it is easy to understand that seeing manmade frequencies of light late in the day will give our bodies the signal that it is not time to prepare for sleep and certainly not the time to release melatonin.
If you see this type of lighting up until you put your head on the pillow, you are short-changing the body, effectively greatly reducing the time that melatonin has to work. The less time it has to work, the less regeneration your body will experience. Health will degrade over time if this pattern continues.
It is time to rethink our evening hours, protect ourselves from toxic blue light,, and prioritize behaviors that will reduce melatonin suppression. Better entrainment of our bodies to the circadian rhythm that all life has evolved under will be of tremendous benefit.
My recommendation on how to accomplish this is known as the Tripod.
The first leg is to get a set of blue blocking glasses from ODS. Pick from thousands of pairs and send to us for specialized tinting of the lenses to block wavelengths of light that have been shown to suppress melatonin release. You will notice an immediate difference in terms of sleep latency (how long it takes you to fall asleep) as well as how rested you feel in the morning.
The second leg of the Tripod is to eliminate toxic blue light frequencies. LED and fluorescent lightbulbs have got to go! Switch them out for clear incandescent. Not only will this reduce toxic blue frequencies but it will also reduce the dirty electricity frequencies being injected onto your home wiring.
Other blue light offenders in our spaces are screens. Laptops, desktops, TVs, phones etc…all emit similarly alien and toxic frequencies as do modern bulbs. Wear blue blockers when viewing these devices, particularly after dark. Also, there is excellent software available to reduce blue light output (and associated flicker, but that is a topic for another day) from our favorite devices. Here are the details:
Install Iris software on Apple and Windows computers. Set this software to the lowest color temperature settings you can tolerate. Trust me, your eyes will adjust well given a little time.
Apple and Google mobile devices now have the ability to change the color temperature and reduce blue light emissions. They are called ‘Night Shift’, for Apple, and there are a few options for Android like ‘Twilight’. Again, set this software to the yellowest, most dim settings you can tolerate. Trust me, your eyes will adjust well given a little time.
Let’s not forget about exterior light pollution either. With all of the bright lights from cities and vehicles these days, the outside world is no longer really dark at night. One study found that “2/3 of the population in the European Union regularly experience nights where the sky is
brighter than under a full moon.” This light pollution will creep around the edges of your window blinds and impact your sleep. You would be wise to get true blackout style blinds that do not let any light come in.
The final leg of the Tripod is to consult a Building Biologist for assistance in assessing and reducing AC electric and magnetic fields in your bedroom. This generally requires some complex detective work and a combination of circuit breakers being turned off during sleeping hours.
When considering implementation of the Tripod, many concerns come up, including:
How will we get around in low light or dark?
Those glasses look weird!
My partner/children/housemates will never go for this!
Is it bad for the appliances?
I have to go all the way downstairs to turn them off?! The garage is creepy at night!
At my house, we began to incorporate the Tripod 1-2 hours after sunset in early 2017 and enjoyed immediate health benefits. I have since rolled it out to many clients and received very good feedback. Here are some of my best practices to make it work (because my family had to work through all the same concerns listed above):
Purchase battery powered lanterns and headlamps that have a red light function. Strategically place these around the house as appropriate. A battery powered LED in red light mode is safer than an LED lightbulb that I recommended against above.
If you have kids, make it age-appropriately fun! Our kids love to play the flashlight game when we are tucking them in at night where we shine the red flashlight around the dark room to mimic a spaceship, and it lands on various objects. This not only gets them used to the red light, but to using the flashlight.
With the guidance of a Building Biologist, a Safe Sleep Switch can be installed for the desired breakers, making the turn-off process electronic vs. mechanical, which is better for preserving the circuit breaker’s protective function. Plus, the included remote key fob makes it incredibly convenient. Contact your Building Biologist for a discount and specific product recommendation.
Appliances are not harmed by tripping a breaker. I have zero reports from my clients about appliance failures.
Using the Tripod recommendations will produce an immediate, marked, improvement in sleep. Similarly to the effect many notice when out in the woods camping for a few days. Your evenings will be more relaxed, and sleep will come more quickly and fully.
Many blue blockers on the market are not exactly good looking. The beauty of our method at ODS is that you pick the frames you like, and then send to us for specialized tinting of the lenses.
There is a growing body of scientific literature making a strong case for the ways in which technology can disrupt our health. As outlined in this article, it is absolutely critical to get sleep right in the modern world. To do this requires a rethinking of the ways in which we use various devices, particularly in the hours leading up to bedtime. This new Light Hygiene empowers us to protect our circadian biology, and begin experiencing more optimal health. I have felt the impact of these changes personally, as have many of my clients. I highly recommend you give them a try.