If you’re using one of the new LED nightlights in your bedroom, it’s probably interfering with your sleep. And so are your laptop and TV, if you’re using them before bedtime.
What the three have in common is that the “white” light in each is visible to us in the blue spectrum.
All light in the blue spectrum blocks the body’s production of melatonin, which we rely on for the regulation of our biological clocks—telling us when we’re sleepy.
We also need the compound because of its anti-oxidant and anti-cancerous properties. A lack of melatonin causes behavior disruptions and health problems; a lack of sleep impairs our thinking, memory and planning abilities.
“Just as there are regulations and standards for ‘classic’ pollutants, there should also be regulations and rules for pollution stemming from artificial light at night,” says Abraham Haim, head of the Center for Interdisciplinary Chronobiological Research at the University of Haifa.
Researchers found that “white” LED blubs suppress the body’s production of melatonin up to 5 times more than some other bulbs.
LEDs suppress melatonin production 3 times as much as do high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs, the bulbs that five off an orange-yellow light used in road lighting.
And metal halide bulbs, used for stadium lighting, suppress melatonin 3 times greater than does the orange HPS blub.
Here are the recommendations of the researchers involved in the study:
Don’t sleep with the lights on.
Don’t use nightlights in the bedroom. If you must get up at night, switch on a nightstand light or put a nightlight in a nearby room—the hall or bathroom.
Keep your bedroom pitch black by using blinds or “blackout” curtains.
Instead of heavy curtains, wear a sleep mask over your eyes at night to block out light.
After dark, limit exposure to white lights including overhead lights and TV and computer screens.
Use table lamps with soft white bulbs and shades to provide a soft glow.
Source: CNCA September 27, 2011 Medical Press September 12, 2011 Study published in Journal of Environmental Management, September, 2011