Is Blue Light any good?

 5 min read

By the look of things, blue light has gained a bad reputation over the years. Once in a while, you have come across a piece of information or have heard about the adverse health effects of blue light, such as fatigue, eyestrain, and headaches. It is more likely that you know your tablet, computer or smartphone is a key source of blue light.

Blue light is a shortwave energy light that travels in short waves and emits high energy levels. The human body comes into contact with blue light either through the skin or the eyes. While blue light is associated with such effects as insomnia and headaches, our bodies can benefit greatly from the blue-light emitted by the sun.

Humans, plants, and animals have a circadian rhythm – an internal body clock that alerts us of the rising times and setting times of the sun. The blue light from the sun ensures that we remain alert and full of energy. As the sun sets and the blue light diminishes, our brain knows that it is time to head to bed. This is done by our eyes' action, stimulating the brain to release melatonin, which is a sleep hormone that allows us to have a night of quality sleep. When the sun rises again and hits our bodies with more blue light, it makes us ready for the day.

The blue light from the sun will help us keep focused and alert as we go through our daily activities, a feeling that is even better than your morning coffee. For example, in 2013, a study was done comparing the effects of caffeine and blue light on the alertness and cognitive function in human beings. The study involved subjecting 21 test participants to a computer-based test before and after they had taken coffee and exposed to blue light. Both caffeine and exposure to blue light were critical in enhancing participants' visual reaction in a test that required making certain decisions. However, it was noted that caffeine would cause a negative effect on the level of an individual's accuracy. Additionally, blue light was effective in ensuring individuals maintained accuracy even in the face of distractions. We are against you dropping your morning routine, but a healthy circadian rhythm is much better.

A study done by the Lancet Psychiatry in 2019 with over 91,000 people showed that participants whose sleep patterns were disrupted had a higher likelihood of suffering from mental issues such as depression or bipolar disorder. It was noted that people with very poor sleeping hygiene were the most affected; mostly people who would be on their phones scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platforms.

Blue light enhances our moods by keeping us focused. Otherwise, we are bound to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition is common in countries with long and dark winters. Such countries will often experience months without sunlight such that by the end of autumn, people will start becoming irritable, lethargic, and sad. To solve this, most people in such regions will invest in lamps that mimic sunshine by emitting lots of blue light.