We’ve all been hearing about putting electronics away at night and wearing blue light glasses. However, the underlying problem runs deeper, it starts with a dearth of light exposure during the day, in particular at our wake time and misaligned with our modern “daytime.”
In the Pacific Northwest we also have the feature of seasonality where the number of hours of daylight is dramatically shorter as compared to he summer. Many of us wake up leave for work in the dark and drive home in the dark and if we never go outside, never see daylight. Many of us may also falsely assume we work in a very bright environment – because it appears bright. But the catch is that our eyes are so exquisite at adjusting to different lighting that we are fooled. Add in filtered glass and sunglasses to make it even more of a problem.
All of our tissues and organs rely on our brains to tell us when it is day and when it is night. For most of human history, the brain has produced a feedback loop from input it receives from the sun by way of our eyes! Everything changed when the lightbulb and electricity came about!
I see this every single day in my practice looking at actigraphy studies. Swipe to see a graph showing time on the x-axis and light intensity (lux) on the y-axis in yellow and movement in red and blue. Outside is >1000 lux and we need around 3500 lux.
If you look at this person’s activity you can tell when they started their day, but compare that to when they started getting any significant amount of light.
This trend is widespread and as a society we are all staying up later as a result, because our exposure to light is decreased during the day and increased at night.
I’ve been recommending light boxes for my entire career but have found they are somewhat impractical because most of us move around so much. My latest favorite product is the Feel Bright Light (link in bio) which mounts on a hat. It has been validated by the Canadian Air Force to produce sufficient intensity for a clinical change.
Are you using light therapy?