29 May Healthy Sleep: Light Exposure, the Sleep/Wake Cycle and Cute Glasses!
This post is written in partnership with Swanwick Sleep, however all opinions are my own. I only work with and recommend companies whose products I love, and I’m so excited to share these with you!
Tim and I have been wearing blue blocking glasses for years, ever since I introduced him to them when we started living together. But five years ago, the choices were incredibly limited, and quite frankly, incredibly ugly. Now my husband could make a trash bag look good, but it was hard to see the dreamboat behind the bright orange, cheap plastic ‘Neo from The Matrix’ blue blocking glasses. And mine were no better, as I had chosen oversized tortoise shell frames, which made me look like a biohacking reject from the seventies…
But, blocking my blue light exposure after sunset is a huge part of my stress/sleep routine, and means I can continue working into the evening on my laptop or other devices should I need to. And I find that if I have an event on until late in the evening (late meaning 8pm to me as I am a Lion Chronotype), popping on my blue blocking glasses helps me wind down before sleep.
I was so happy when Swanwick Sleep reached out to me – finally I had found a pair of blue blocking glasses that were not only effective, but looked super cute as well! I currently have their Night Swannies, and plan on getting a pair of their prescription Day Swannies too, for my days in the office when I am researching and writing (and want to look good at the same time).
How Blue Light Exposure Affects Your Sleep/Wake Cycle
Light is one of the key zeitgebers, or regulators of our circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm dictates everything from our energy levels to when we are hungry, mentally alert, crave social interaction, and of course our sleep/wake cycle.
When photoreceptors in the eye detect blue light, they send a message to the pineal gland via the suprachiasmatic nucleus (a tiny area of the brain) to suppress the release of melatonin, a hormone that induces the onset of sleep. Whilst this is exactly what we want during the day when we need to be alert and awake (and why I suggest getting as much light exposure as possible early in the day), blue light exposure after sunset disrupts our circadian rhythms, preventing melatonin secretion and the cascade of physiological effects that help us wind down and relax, preparing us for restful and restorative sleep.
Ideally, we would live like our paleolithic ancestors and end our working day at sunset, relying only on the orange hue of firelight until bedtime. But unfortunately, we are all busier and have more responsibilities than every more, and as such many of us are working from home in the evenings. And if we are not working we are watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling through social media, all the while exposing ourselves to blue light and causing dis-regulation of our sleep/wake cycles.
Now, I like to meet my clients where they are at, and give them workable solutions to our everyday health challenges. Whilst I would love for them to shut off all their electric lights and play board games by candlelight in the evenings, I know that this is never going to be the reality! Here are some simple ways you can regulate your circadian rhythm and sleep/wake cycle throughout the day:
- Exposure yourself to as much daylight during the day as possible: use a daylight alarm clock, draw the curtains the minute you wake up, workout outside, try and sit near to a window whilst working, and go for a walk at lunchtime or mid-afternoon.
- Use a pair of Day Swannies (they have Custom Rx versions too) for long stints at your computer or smartphone.
- Switch overhead bright lights to softer side lighting and lamps after sunset
- Use the ‘Night Mode’ settings on your smart phone, and programs such as F.lux on your devices to minimise the amount to blue light your electronics emit.
- Pop on your Night Swannies should you have to work or look at screens past sunset, or if you find it hard to wind down in the evenings
- Ensure there is no light at all in your bedroom at night – try blackout blinds or curtains, eliminate any LED’s, and use an eye mask too if your partner comes to bed at a different time than you!
To get your hands on a pair of Swannies (they are unisex, and come in Day, Night and Custom Rx options) simply click on the link below: