If you’re the type who likes to engage in cyberspace all evening long, beware the blue light district. All those blue wavelengths emanating from your screen are decreasing your production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep.
You know that third eye between your two real ones–the spot that Hindus revere as a spiritual connection to the netherworld? That spot has a meaning in this life, too. Just beyond it lies the pineal gland, which secretes melatonin.
In addition to regulating your sleep cycle, melatonin plays other important roles. It’s one of several hormones involved in weight gain and insulin resistance. It also helps inhibit the growth of many types of cancer— and may be particularly important for estrogen-dependent cancers. By inhibiting aromatase enzyme, melatonin helps decrease production of harmful estrogens.
At night, your body makes melatonin– assuming that you’re sleeping in complete darkness, without a night light or any of those tiny lights reflective of modern gadgetry. Low level electro-magnetic fields circulate 2 to 6 feet around the digital clock on your bedside table and will disturb melatonin production. So will aspirin, beta blockers and caffeine. And as we age, our bodies also naturally produce less melatonin.
To increase melatonin, try eating some goji or raspberries. Getting out in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes, without glasses, will also help adjust your natural circadian rhythms. The earlier in the day you get outside, the earlier in the evening your body will start moving into sleep mode–unless you’re having a love affair like I am.
Who really wants to obey the golden rule and shut off the screen two to three hours before sleep time? Thanks to my favorite optical provider, I’m now wearing reading glasses that keep me out of the Blue Light zone and allow the lids to shut soon after the screen does.