BOSTON (CBS) – From our phones and computers to the lights in our homes, we are constantly bombarded with blue light, and nighttime exposure can be hazardous to your health.
Edward Takach has trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, so he’s made big changes at home.
“It’s just become regular routine,” Takach said.
His television, tablet and computer are set up so he sees warmer colors from dusk to dawn. So is the lighting in his home. He is trying to block blue light from electronics and energy efficient light bulbs at night.
“It does help me personally, as a sleep patient, feel more ready for sleep and get to sleep a lot easier,” Takach said.
Dr. Charles Czeisler of Brigham and Women’s Hospital has been studying blue light for years. He says exposure at night throws off the body’s biological clock and suppresses the release of the sleep hormone melatonin.
“We’ve done studies showing that if we read, for example, from an iPad in the few hours before bedtime, that that resets our circadian clock by about an hour and a half later,” Dr. Czeisler explains.
There’s also evidence that exposure to blue light at night may not just affect sleep.
“Shifting our circadian rhythms repeatedly has been associated with an increased risk for various types of cancers including colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer,” says Dr. Czeisler.
His best advice? If you work nights or use a lot of devices at night, use apps or settings like Takach does. Most importantly, avoid bright screens two to three hours before bed.
“On the nights where I’m really compliant, it does help significantly,” Takach said. “On nights you aren’t compliant, you can really feel it.”
And that’s why he choses to pick up an actual book before bedtime.
Sleep researchers say it’s also good to expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which can help with mood and alertness and help your ability to sleep at night.