May 13 2019
Like many of the factors which either improve or hinder our sleep, lighting does not provide a straight forward influence on how well we kip. It’s not that eating food will make us overweight. Eating the wrong food at the wrong time, however, will.
That's why we need to look not only at how different types of light affect our sleep, but also how we can best use light to provide minimal sleepiness.
Different types of light
We might think of ways in which sound travels at different wavelengths, some of which we register as audible noise, some of which we don't. This can be seen in how dogs hear the ultrasonic frequency of dog whistles, but not in our humans.
Light works in a similar way and can also travel through wavelengths. Similar to a dog whistle, there is light that we cannot detect. What's more, in the light we can detect, there is different light, which is beneficial at different times.
We are talking about light that comes from different types of light and can be called "visible light" for these purposes. This is light at an electromagnetic frequency of 430 to 750THz. The two opposite ends of the light are ultraviolet and infrared.
Beautiful sunny days have a bright blue sky because of how these different wavelengths pass through the earth's atmosphere. Since we are day and night (as opposed to night), we need this blue light to function. It helps our bodies produce the hormones we need to stay alert, fend off predators, and do all our work in the modern world.
This is why night shift workers have lower life expectancy. It violates our body's circadian rhythms and can put our overall health at risk.
However, it's not our exposure to blue light that's the problem. We need blue light to work. This is how we let it affect us.
Use LED lighting to help improve sleep
While the warm red lights of incandescent bulbs are usually better for us while we sleep, in fact they are usually better. They are far less energy efficient, cost more in the long run, and provide higher levels of harmful ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
LED lighting is the future of plastic light. Not only are they more cost-effective, they last longer, but they are doable. This means we can set up leds so that they emit lower blue light when we don't need them, and more when we do.
Leds help solve the sustainability problems facing our world while improving our sleep patterns by celebrating our natural rhythms. Walking around our house, we have different types of light bulbs in our pockets in order to change at different times of the day, which is unreasonable and unhelpful. Not only is it reasonable, but it is advisable to take advantage of the potential of LED to help us relax easily. Not only that, but new technologies are being developed to make red light in the form of leds (in wider wavelengths) more affordable, which could be a step into the future for sleep-assisted LED lighting.
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