We have known or suspected for quite some time that there are significant harmful health and environmental consequences associated with excessive light use at night, especially blue-rich light. Advances in technology and the widespread transition to light emitting diodes (LEDs), which emit substantial amounts of blue light, have made this especially important to understand and address.
The American Medical Association (AMA) recently released an important and timely report, providing scientific evidence in support of these concerns. They affirm the potential health hazards of blue-rich light, including its links to increased risks for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and circadian rhythm disruption. They also find that blue-rich LED street lighting is five times more disruptive to our sleep than conventional street lighting and that brighter neighborhood lighting is associated with reduced sleep and impaired daytime functioning.
This interesting article outlines some of the AMA’s findings and describes some of the implications.
On an individual level, there are things we can do to minimize the impact on our sleep and our health from light exposure at night.
Here are some suggestions for more healthy and responsible light use:
- Use “warm-white” or filtered LEDs to minimize blue light emission
- Choose products with adaptive controls, such as dimmers, timers, and motion sensors
- Dim or turn off lights during overnight hours
- Light only the area needed in the minimal amount required
- Avoid using blue-rich light devices (e-readers, laptop and phone screens, etc.) in the evening as much as possible (2-3 hours before bedtime)
- Download an app that filters out the blue light from your devices (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/get-good-nights-sleep-filtering-phones-blue-light/)