As a biohacker and performance enhancement guru, I am always in awe of innovations that can alter and improve the human state, shift efficiencies and then in doing so, alter our scope of future possibility.
Together with other scientists’, Dr. Thomas Alva Edison’s contribution to the invention of the light bulb was a phenomenal technological revolution that allowed mankind to get more productivity out of our days. Up until this point, humankind relied on the light source of the sun. Whilst working in accordance with the rhythm of the sun may have had limited perceived productivity, we were ensured of optimal circadian rhythms as our bodies ebbed in and out of flows of melatonin production– increasing as the sun started to set in order to prime us for restorative sleep and to be used during the day as the ‘healing hormone’ to combat inflammation.
As helpful as artificial light is, today we not only have exposure to artificial light after dark, but often, all through the day. We sit in office buildings with beams of artificial light blazing on us all day and are seldom able to get outside and experience the benefits of the most nutritious source of light- that of the sun.
We are now paying the price of over exposure to artificial light. Rise in digital eye strain, headaches, trouble sleeping and severe eye degradation are just some of the consequences of prolonged exposure. My colleague, Andy Mant, founder of BLUBlox notes some very useful pointers on how to protect yourself from over exposure.
Tips to biohack your light!
10. Turn your iPhone screen to red!
You may not be aware but after dark, even the tiniest fraction of blue or green light between 400-550nm can negatively impact your circadian rhythm. Whilst blue blocking glasses can definitely help, these glasses cannot protect you from the periphery impact of what a blue-lit LED digital device such as your mobile phone, does to your thyroid and hormonal balance. Even the native Night Shift mode on your phone will not eliminate all blue light. For those who have an iPhone, there is a feature enabling you to turn your iPhone to a red light which adds further protection. Andy covers how to turn your iPhone screen to red.
9. Wear a Scarf or Buff (or polar neck in winter!) to cover your thyroid
Blue light can disrupt the function of our thyroid. Whilst turning our mobile phones to red light can help mitigate the exposure of blue light from these devices on our thyroid, we need to be mindful that there are so many other sources of blue light around us from secondary sources we cannot control.
For this reason, it is important to cover your thyroid with a scarf or buff when you’re exposed to artificial light. Your thyroid is the powerhouse of your hormones and you should do what you can to protect it.
8. Salt Lamps
A recent study administered isolated blue light to skin and the results revealed considerable aging- proof that blue light can damage your skin and eyes. Whilst the sun emits light that has blue light rays in it, it is also filled with many restorative red light rays. These red light rays counter the blue rays and repair any damage the blue light causes.
Artificial lighting however has none of this compensatory red light– but we can introduce this with salt lamps which emit a pinkish glow that can balance the blue light from laptops and artificial lighting. Salt lamps are cost effective and great for your light hygiene- not to mention ambience.
7. Watching the Sunrise
Possibly one of the most effective, free and simple light hacks is to watch the sunrise. As the sun rises, it emits the exact frequencies of light that set our master clock as well as our hormone cascade, for the day and night ahead.
- Serotonin is produced which is later turned into Melatonin after dark in combination with Tryptophan.
- Dopamine is released which heightens our wellbeing.
- Cortisol is spiked which is essentially out starter motor for the day ahead.
Something as simple as missing the sunrise may result in us feeling off centre or low in mood during the day, eating more or sleeping much later in the evening. You may not be a morning person (yet!) but after a few weeks of diligently watching the sunrise you will feel and sleep better than ever and we re-categorise yourself as an early bird!
6. REMedy Sleep Mask
The best sleep happens in environments where there is 100% black out. Even light from street lamps shining onto your closed eyes can disrupt your circadian rhythm increasing insulin resistance, disrupting your hormones, leading to obesity or weight gain.
Black out curtains are a tremendous help. The REMedy Sleep Mask is an excellent product that guarantees 100% darkness as you sleep. Made To Thrive clients receive a 15% discount on the REMedy Sleep Mask– click here to view or purchase with the discount.
5. Iris Software
Computer and laptop screens as well as the screens of our mobile devices pose one of the biggest threats to our light hygiene. They are the biggest culprits because not only do they emit large volumes of blue and green light but they flicker too. The best blue light filter and eye protection software on the market is IRIS– it targets both blue/ green light reduction and flicker. Made to Thrive Clients receive a 10% discount on all IRIS software package options. Click here to view the packages.
4. Day Time Blue Light Filtering Glasses
During the day, when under artificial blue light, we do not want to block blue light entirely as we need it for optimal health and wellness, but we do want to filter it down so we get less eye and mitochondria damage (Naturally, sunlight is the most optimal source of blue light). The issue with many clear lens blue light filtering glasses, in fact about 99% of them, is that they focus on reducing blue light between 400-440nm, however when you see the below LED light emissions in the graph depicted below, the target area is actually much greater.
This is why BLUblox has created the BluLite clear lens and the SummerGlo yellow lens. BluLite lenses target blue light between 400-495nm, reducing damaging blue light across the entire spectrum, not just a fraction of it. BLUblox SummerGlo lenses go a step further a reduce blue across the entire blue spectrum but with a strong focus on light between 400-465nm. When you are looking for a blue light filtering lens for daytime use, make sure they filter across the entire blue spectrum and not a tiny fraction- otherwise it will be a waste of money.
3. Sun Breaks
By far the best of the free hacks! Sun breaks allow your eyes and skin to receive necessary light signals from the sun to keep your hormones balanced and your body clock in sync. Quick sun moments of taking a walk outside to keep movement levels elevated, or eating your lunch in the sun, will enhance your mood and your hormone profile.
2. Red Light Bulbs
We know that wearing BLUblox after dark is a non-negotiable. However, as mentioned, blue light hitting our skin after dark can cause ageing, inflammation and hormone disruption.
The skin has its own circadian rhythm and in order for it to go into repair mode after dark, it too needs zero exposure to blue and green light after sunset. Very few of us live in homes without electricity and thus light, and this means our skins are permanently inflamed with less time to repair. For this reason, it is recommended that you install red light bulbs in your lamps and house lights allowing your skin to repair and your body to relax before bed.
Incandescent bulbs are best as they don’t flicker, halogen is next best but can sometimes be too bright and LED’s should be avoided as they flicker and that is detrimental for our central nervous system.
1. 100% Blue Light Blocking Glasses (and green….)
After the sun has set our bodies need physiological darkness to be able to shift hormone production from cortisol to melatonin and prepare us for the recovery phase. Physiological darkness can be defined as the absence of blue and green light between 400-550nm. Conventional “blue blockers” block anywhere between 50%-98% of blue light between 400-500nm. Some companies have even gone as far as 100% from 400-530nm. However, whether your let 2% or 100% of melatonin-disrupting blue or green light into your eyes makes no difference to your master clock. It still gets the message that its not dark and should therefore not optimise melatonin production. So when people say they can buy $4 blue blockers that block 98% of blue light you are now informed to see that they should have spent that $4 on a red light bulb, a much better investment, or put it towards a scientifically tested and evidence backed, 100% light blocking from 400-550nm red lens such as BLUblox Sleep+. Wear these after sunset and optimise your recovery and sleep. They are also great for flights to manage jet lag and are useful for dark winter mornings before the sunrise. For the latest independent review on BLUblox visit the Human Window.