Blue Light Is Bad at Midnight

by Aaron Dennis about a year ago in gadgets

But What Do I Know

Blue Light Is Bad at Midnight

We’ve all been there. It was a long day at work. The kids wouldn’t be quiet. The ole’ spouse was as bad as the four year old. We’re tired, so we turn on the television and just try to relax, but then we can’t fall asleep.

It doesn’t seem to matter what we do. We just can’t sleep. It’s something so natural, like breathing, or eating, but we just can’t do it.

Even after turning off the television, phone, or computer, we can’t seem to fall asleep. We lie down. We look at the clock. We say to ourselves: If I fall asleep now, I can get five hours. If I fall asleep now, I can get four hours, and then we toss and turn all night. There is a reason for this phenomenon. It’s called blue light.

According to studies at Harvard, not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. The advent of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, has increased our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

So what does this mean? It means that if you’re having trouble falling asleep, and some people appear unaffected, it’s imperative that you shut off all electronics and artificial lighting about an hour before you intend to be sleeping. You may also want to take melatonin, a hormone, which helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles. This is available OTC everywhere, and your body produces it naturally anyway.

Unfortunately, things like blue light, as well as alcohol, can break down your melatonin production, which means that even though those two beers after work help you to wind down and relax, they're just as harmful as your television; you might want to make sure you stop drinking alcohol about two hours before going to bed. You'll probably pee less, too...

Now, I’m not a doctor. I’m not giving medical advice, but I am speaking from experience. I’ve never been able to sleep well.

I remember being a little kid, awake at three in the morning on a school night, watching Bonanza because I simply could not sleep. Of course, no one knew that I couldn’t sleep because I had been playing video games until bedtime. It was the blue light keeping me awake.

Today, we’re awake because we’re on our computers or phones. We’re busy, and most of what we do has to be done online and at night. We have to use our blue lights, especially since we have to use artificial lighting in order to remain productive throughout the day. It’s a crazy cycle, but it is a cycle that can be broken.

There’s this cool little device you can purchase from Amazon.

DriftTV removes the blue light from your television so that you can get some sleep. It also makes the colors look weird, so you probably won’t use it during the day, but if you want to watch TV up until bedtime, you can use DriftTV to remove the bad light.

It’s too bad you can’t use it for your phone or laptop, but here’s the thing…

Harvard knows about blue light and its negative effects. Doctors know about blue light and its negative effects. I know about blue light and its negative effects. Evidently, Saffron, the company that makes DriftTV, knows about blue light and its negative effects. So why don’t all electronics come with a built-in mode to remove blue light?

Obviously, you won’t want to remove blue light all the time—you’re working, it’s daytime, you’re playing video games—you’re going to want your colors to be rich and full for the most part, but what about that last half hour of the day?

How simple would it be for your Sony TV, your Acer laptop, your Galaxy SG 10 to have a built-in blue light killer? An hour before you go to bed, you should be able to switch to “dark mode” or “night mode” or something. We shouldn’t have to buy a third-party item, a blue light filter; our electronics should have built-in filters… but what do I know, right?

I’m just some dumb ass, writing on his laptop at 11 PM, unable to sleep. Maybe, if I shut off my laptop and stop working, I could get some rest, but writing is what I do, and I tend to do it late at night because that’s when the creative juices start flowing. I would really love it if my laptop had a built-in switch to remove blue light—I’d be able to work, and then fall asleep!

But nooo! Technology has to mess with us. Then, someone comes up with this little thing—this blue light filter. It’s a little helpful. It seems like a wonderful idea. That person or company makes a ton of money, and I’m over here thinking: Why aren’t I filthy rich?! I just came up with a way to solve everyone’s sleep problems, but what do I know, right?

In about five years, when all screens do have a built-in blue light filter, I’ll be frothing at the mouth, writing another post, but maybe some of you will remember I came up with this idea first.

Thanks for reading this new series of articles that I’m calling But What Do I Know? You'll be able to find them all on my new But What Do I Know page, so stay tuned for more insights from an insomniac.

Aaron Dennis
Aaron Dennis
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Aaron Dennis

Creator of the Lokians SciFi series, The Adventures of Larson and Garrett, The Dragon of Time series, and more.

See all posts by Aaron Dennis