Blue light effects
Yes, in humans, there is evidence that supports that blue light disrupts the normal circadian rhythms (biological clock), resulting in mood disorders such as depression. Although blue wavelength light potentially contributes to health problems associated with circadian disruption, research has not conclusively demonstrated that blue wavelength light exposure at night causes an increase in these health risks. The following are a few common benefits and harmful effects of blue light
- Disruption of circadian rhythm: A circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats with each rotation of the earth, roughly every 24 hours. It can refer to any biological process that displays an endogenous, entrainable oscillation of about 24 hours.
- Digital eye strain syndrome: It involves blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry/irritated eyes, headaches, neck and back pain.
- Cancers: Greater risk of breast and prostate cancer.
- Health problems: People with long-term blue light exposure may have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
- Mood disorders: People who are exposed to constant blue light may have an increased risk of depression and other mood disorders.
- Eye problems: May contribute to macular degeneration and cause permanent eye damage.
Research carried out at Oregon State University suggests that extensive daily exposure to blue light may accelerate aging by effectively damaging retinal cells (helps to see), brain neurons (helps to think) and the locomotive system (helps to move). This may happen even if we don’t absorb the blue light directly through the eyes, but simply from exposing the skin to it at home and at work where it’s emitted from various household fixtures and devices.
Beneficial effects of blue light
- It's well documented that some blue light exposure is essential for good health. Research has shown that high-energy visible light boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and elevates mood.
- Not all blue lights are bad. Light therapy is used to treat seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression related to changes in seasons. Its symptoms usually begin in the fall and continue through the winter. The light sources for this therapy emit a bright white light that contains a significant amount of blue light rays.
- It’s best to be exposed to blue light outside. Sunlight is the best source to get it. Getting natural sun exposure nurtures the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN (the biological rhythm pacemaker in the brain) when blue light is combined with other wavelengths of light from the spectrum.
- Minimum exposure to morning blue light contributes to better hormone levels, body temperature and digestion.
- Efficient exposure to natural blue light may also play an important role in eye health and reduce the risk of conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness).
- Blue light can help elevate mood and boost awareness.
- However, long-term or frequent exposure to blue light at night can lower the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep and disrupts the circadian rhythm.
- Researchers aren't exactly sure why exposure to blue light at night seems to have such detrimental effects on our health, but it is known that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin. The lower melatonin levels might explain the association with the above health problems.
- Exposure to blue light during daytime hours helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. However, too much blue light late at night (for example, reading a novel on a tablet, computer or e-reader at bedtime) can disrupt this cycle, potentially causing sleepless nights and daytime fatigue.
- While blue light is great for our bodies during the day when we take it in from the sun, most problems occur at night because we unknowingly expose ourselves to blue lights inside our homes.
- In the brain, a small group of hypothalamic nerve cells (the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN) function as a master circadian pacemaker. This controls the timing of the sleep-wake cycle and coordinates this cycle with other brain and body systems to direct behavior appropriately.
- When we expose ourselves to blue light at night by using gadgets, such as smartphones, we are telling our brains that the sun is still up. This is how we mess with our circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are important because they determine the sleeping and eating patterns of all animals, including humans.
- Blue light can also affect our mental health and this seems to be particularly true for younger people. Early exposure to electronics has been named as one of the possible reasons behind the phenomena. According to another recent study, children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens, making children even more susceptible to harm from blue lights.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Royal Society Te Aparangi
Top Can Blue Light Cause Depression Related Articles
DepressionDepression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Depression and SuicideDepression is a psychiatric illness that affects one in six people in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of people with depression do not realize that they have a treatable illness and do not seek treatment. Depression could happen when there is a decrease in the functional balance of the brain chemicals e.g., serotonin and norepinephrine.
Depression in ChildrenChildhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include anger, social withdrawal, vocal outbursts, fatigue, physical complaints, and thoughts of suicide. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Depression in the ElderlyDepression in the elderly is very common. That doesn't mean, though, it's normal. Treatment may involve antidepressants, psychotherapy, or electroconvulsive therapy.
Depression SlideshowWhat is depression? Get information on symptoms, signs, tests, and treatments for many types of depression including major depression, chronic depression, teen depression, and postpartum depression.
Depression QuizMany people do not recognize the symptoms and warning signs of depression and depressive disorders in children and adults. With proper diagnosis, treatments and medications are available. Take this quiz to learn more about recovery from depression.
Depression: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)Do you find yourself getting depressed as winter approaches each year? Or when you don't see the sun for a while? You may have seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Learn all the symptoms and how to manage them.
Depression Tips SlidesThe right exercise, diet, and activities -- even playing with a pet --can help you recover from depression. Learn simple lifestyle changes you can do to improve your mood.
Does Blue Light Help Your Mood?Blue light has a short wavelength and a high amount of energy. Adequate exposure to the natural blue light is known to lift your mood, attention and reaction times during the day.
Is Blue Light Bad for Your Brain?Blue light coming from gadgets, such as smartphones and laptops, is bad for your overall health. It especially affects the brain at night.
Myths and Facts About Depression SlideshowFolk remedies and half-truths still prevent many from getting treatment for depression. WebMD's pictures show unusual symptoms in men, seniors, and others, along with many ways to recover.
Teen DepressionDepression in teenagers may be caused by many factors. Symptoms of teen depression include apathy, irresponsible behavior, sadness, sudden drop in grades, withdrawal from friends, and alcohol and drug use. Treatment of depression in adolescents may involve psychotherapy and medications.
What Is Major Depression Disorder?The American Psychiatric Association defines major depressive disorder (depression) as a common, but serious, medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, thinks and acts. Depression causes sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home.
What Is a Nervous Breakdown?A nervous or mental breakdown is a general term used to describe a period of overwhelming mental distress. This term is usually used to refer to an intense set of emotions a person experiences in a wide variety of mental illnesses, including depression, stress disorder, and anxiety.
Why Is Blue Light Bad for Sleep?Blue light is a visible light spectrum with the shortest wavelength and highest energy. Exposure to blue light affects the sleep-and-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, by altering the synthesis of melatonin in the brain.