What is melatonin and what does it do?
Melatonin is the hormone in your brain that regulates the natural wake-sleep cycle and is commonly referred to as the circadian rhythm. The body's ability to produce it is dependent on the detection of light and dark. (1)
As the day turns to night, and the sun disappears, the body switches to evening mode and eventually sleep sets in.
In addition to regulating sleep and wakefulness, melatonin also:
- acts an antioxidant and has been shown to be twice as active as vitamin E
- combats inflammation
- decreases negative menopause symptoms
- eases jet lag
- helps strengthen the immune system
What is blue light and where does it come from?
Blue light is literally everywhere.
Being exposed to some blue light is a good thing and can be helpful. A few sources include the sun, handheld digital devices, computer screens, cell phones and televisions.
Artificial lighting is a major contributor of blue light
As the sunlight fades away and the day turns to night, the lights go on. Having indoor and outdoor lighting is one of the worlds greatest inventions.
Have you ever looked at a city at night when flying over it? It is spectacular to see. It is illuminated by light and can be seen miles away.
However, like all things in life, balance and moderate exposure is something to be mindful of.
Too much artificial blue light exposure at night can be counter productive for sleep
Starting about 2 hours before going to bed the human body starts producing its own melatonin when lighting is dim. This is referred to as dim-light melatonin onset (DLMO).
Being exposed to bright light later into the evening delays the circadian phase causing later wake-up time and later sleep onset. If there is continued exposure to light brightness (illuminance) as the evening progresses the delayed effect gets stronger. (4)
If the pattern of being exposed to evening artificial light continues over time, sleep onset can become a problem. Getting to sleep, staying asleep and having restful sleeps becomes more scarce. The result can negatively affect how you feel and function during the day.
What types of blue light sources negatively affect sleep and the circadian phase?
- artificial lighting
- cell phones
- computer screens
- digital handheld devices
- LED lighting
- television screens
What can you do to increase melatonin production in the evening?
The most obvious answer is to reduce exposure to artificial blue light in the evening. This can be accomplished by being mindful of the light that is around. If the lighting is very bright, either turn it off, or dim the lighting.
Reduce screen time when using computers and other electronic devices in the evening, keep the screen at a distance from your eyes.
Wearing blue light blocking glasses help with sleep
There is a lot of research, interest and real life experience on the use of blue light blocking glasses for reducing eye strain and helping to increase the body's natural production of the sleep hormone melatonin when worn 2 hours before bedtime.
We recommend that you wear our Couling Sleep evening blue light blocking glasses. The amber lenses block 70% blue light, they are ultra lightweight and are very comfortable to wear.
Learn more about blue light and sleep on our FAQ's page
Related article - How To Help Yourself Sleep Better At Night
Note: Melatonin supplements
In some parts of the world, melatonin can be purchased over the counter and does not require a doctor's prescription for occasional use to help adults fall asleep. For short term, low dose use, there appears to be minimal side effects. Long term use is not fully understood as present.
Some of the reported side effects of taking melatonin supplements include: (2)
- Next-day grogginess
If you choose to use a melatonin supplement, it is suggested that you speak with qualified a healthcare practitioner.
If you live in Edmonton or Sherwood Park in Alberta, Canada, you can purchase our glasses at Optimum Health Vitamins.
We hope that you enjoyed this article and gained benefit from reading it. If you do decide to get a pair of our glasses and you like them, please let us know!
2.) Is melatonin a helpful sleep aid — and what should I know about melatonin side effects?
3.) Blue light has a dark side - What is blue light? The effect blue light has on your sleep and more.
4.) Phase response curve
5.) Melatonin: A peroxyl radical scavenger more effective than vitamin E
6.) Effects of blue light technology