Optimal light hygiene for health, wellness and sleep is crucial. Here are a few hacks on how to manage light exposure in a day.
1. Rise and Shine
Try to ensure that you are awake, alert and ready to start the day 10 minutes before sunrise. Use this time to prepare to get outside, then face the East and settle for some quiet time to watch the sunrise. If its warm, it is ideal to watch the sunrise with as much topical skin exposure as possible. If it is cold outside, put something that is ‘just warm enough’ on so that you get the benefits of boosting immune health with coldness on the skin. If you wake and it is dark for some time prior to the sun rise (for example in winter), be sure to wear your Sleep+ BLUblox until the sun is about ready to rise, and then get out to watch it.
Watching the sunrise is an excellent way to entrain the body clock. It does this by enabling the circadian mechanism to start firing. Cortisol production peaks at sunrise and this awakening response ensures the body remains hormonally balanced and optimal throughout the day. Sunrise also encourages the release of Dopamine which allows you to feel uplifted and motivated to tackle the day. Serotonin production is also activated which then mixes with tryptophan in the gut to produce melatonin– an important hormone to aid sleep. As you can see, watching the sunrise kick starts an important process for our hormones and neurotransmitters– all of which are vital for optimal circadian health.
Another reason myself and colleagues such as BLUblox founder Andy Mant, are protagonists for ensuring we watch the sunrise is to help build up melanin levels. Melanin is a natural pigment in the skin which gives the skin its colour. Melanin absorbs light and the pigment is able to dissipate over 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation. Therefore, melanin is a protector against UV radiation and studies have shown those with higher levels of melanin have lower incidences of skin cancer. The more we are outside in the mornings, the more melanin we will safely build and the more melanin we have the lower our likelihood for sun burn and skin cell damage later in the day when the UV levels increase. In the mornings there is less UV light present which means we can build more melanin without the risk of burning and causing damage to our skin. You can build melanin when UV is high but it will likely also cause skin damage, so slow and steady is the goal, outside in the morning for at least 30 minutes every day!
If at sunrise it’s not sunny but rather cloudy or raining, we’d still encourage you to be outside. The light from the sun will still penetrate the cloud cover and provide some light for our skin to absorb. So, come rain or shine, let’s treat ourselves to the sunrise!
2. Train and move smartly!
All things being equal and practical (seasons, work schedules etc.) the ideal time for physical movement is 1 hour after the sun has risen. Movement in the morning allows for entrainment of the skeletal muscle clock in line with the body’s master clock that has just been entrained by the light from the rising sun. Where possible, select activity that is outside or has as much natural light as you can get so that your artificial light exposure is reduced. If you train in a gym, try to select one that has a lot of natural light and consider using a pair of BLUBlox Yellow SummerGlo blue light glasses when training. These glasses block out the blue light from the fluorescent gym illumination which can damage the mitochondria in your eyes (leading to disease in later life). Be sure to cover as much of your skin as possible so wear tracksuit pants and a sweater with a hoodie for example. You may feel hot or sweat more, but this is great intensity training!
If you have access to it, follow your work out by indulging in a sauna– or even better an infrared sauna. The heat and infrared light speed up the muscle healing process to aid recovery.
Following exercise, carve out some time for 10-20 minutes of either mindfulness of manifestation practice. If you are under time pressures, even 5 minutes of a meditation can result in significant benefits. You can select a range of different options according to various topics and the time you have available on the free Insight Timer Meditation app.
4. Work and computers
In an ideal world, we should all work outside- taking our laptops or computers into the sun and spend a day soaking up the vitamin D. For entrepreneurs who are able to do this, the blue light emitted from the computer is counter balanced by sunlight. Digital devices and LED office lighting emits high amounts of blue light and very little red light. Red light results in cell repair and rejuvenation whilst blue light causes cell damage in the eyes. Counter balancing blue light exposure with natural red light from the sun is your body’s happy place. There is never a substitute for sunlight. That said, it is often not possible for many of us to work outside. In these instances, try to work under incandescent artificial bulbs and be sure to have Iris Software installed on your computer. Made To Thrive is an affiliate partner to Iris Software and clients receive a 10% discount on the various packages when purchasing.
Wearing BLUblox BluLite computer glasses is also a brilliant hack for office based people.
5. The Bedtime Signal
The perfect way to close out a day is to watch the sunset when red light is at its highest. Red light is calming and restorative and helps to lower cortisol production which needs to be lowered after the busyness of a day to ensure that melatonin production can increase. This sends an important signal to your body that it is the end of the circadian day and it is now time to transition to the restore and repair phase.
As soon as it is time for the lights to be switched on, wear your BLUblox Sleep+ blue blockers– even if your home globes are all red light/ incandescent bulbs. These bulbs are much better than LED or halogen bulbs but you want to ensure that no blue or green waves have the opportunity to impact your melatonin production.
If you are able to, try to be in bed at a reasonable time, ensuring that you are able to get 8+ hours of sleep. Cover your eyes completely (using something like the REMedy mask) so that no light from street lamps or your neighbours floodlights, impact your eyes. Studies have shown that wearing a sleep mask increases REM sleep which aids restorative sleeve needed for healthy cells and a strong immune system.