Deleterious effects of artificial light at night on health and the environment

Evidence summary on how our increasing exposure to artificial blue light is putting us at risk. And actionable steps on what you can do about it.

It's not blue light per se, but rather underexposure to natural sunlight during the day and overexposure to artificial light at night (ALAN). Step 1: Do the opposite of that.

"Bright light occurs naturally as part of sunlight and moonlight and, like all living things on Earth, we have evolved to respond to the daily cycle of light and dark. There is growing concern that the increased exposure to artificial light at nigh is having an effect on our health, wildlife, and the night sky."

Your eyeballs are pretty awesome. Rods and cones and these crazy cells that respond specifically to daylight. The crazy cells, ipRGCs, respond to light, particularly in the green/blue range of visible and serve, in part, to entrain the central component of your circadian clock in the SCN. This is important and influences many body functions such as sleep, metabolism, immune system, mood, and even certain disease processes.

If you're more interested in the environmental impact of artificial light (eg, street lamps), book recommendation: The End of Night: Searching for Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. If you're more interested in the human effects: Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival.

ALAN-induced clock disruption is said to have "flow-on" negative health effect -- there's no "good news / bad news" to this story (it's all bad news).

Rock hot blue blockers at night. Use blue light filters on your devices like f.lux and Iris. Sunlight during the day; darkness, moonlight, or firelight at night.

Note those spectral sensitivities - we can see more green/blue than any other colors. Maybe there's a reason for that?

As people age, vision declines and this impacts the detection of blue light more than others. Actionable steps: Older people need way more sunlight in the morning. Smart phones and iPads at night are really really bad for kids, the younger the worse. Limiting screen time may be prudent in this #context.

"Humans [should] use environmental cues from light to synchronise the body's internal daily rhythms to the external day/night cycle." Interestingly, humans can relatively easily adapt to Daylight Saving Time and traveling across time zones but not shift work. That's why disease risk in consistently increased in the latter. This, imo, is a species-level phenomena: owls are a night species; humans are a day species. The evening-chronotype doesn't suit us very well.

"The sun emits radiation in the infrared, visible, and ultraviolet regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, peaking in the visible region." We can only see visible light, due to intrinsic qualities of our super-cool eyeballs. But all manners of light effect us in a variety of manners -- I suspect many unknown unknowns here.

'Warmer' colored bulbs like incandescents emit less blue light. Ie, more like candles than your smart phone LED.

"Our increasingly 24/7 lifestyle alters our patterns of exposure to blue light and directly challenges our circadian drive for sleep at night."

Depression, cognitive dysfunction, obesity, cancer... :(

That's all for now!

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