According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 50 percent of all Americans suffer from sleep deprivation that affects their daily activities. Up to 6,000 of fatal car crashes that occur each year may be caused by drivers who fell asleep at the wheel.
Biohacking your sleep can go a long way towards improving your quality of life and the quality of your sleep. Biohackers can be described as those who explore biology and find new ways to improve it. Improving your sleep by biohacking a little may have surprising results.
The Guilty Party
Did you know that the cell phone, laptop, phablet or tablet you cuddle up to every night before you go to sleep may be wrecking your body’s sleep patterns? It’s true. The blue light that devices and TVs produces can lead to sleep dysfunction of all kinds.
A study was performed on a group of participants ranging in age from 17 to 42. The subjects were given blue blocking glasses to wear three hours before bedtime for two weeks. They did not cut back on their before-bed device and television usage. After the two-week period, the researchers noticed a 58 percent increase in melatonin levels from wearing blue blocking glasses.
Melatonin is the chemical that your body creates to help you settle down for sleep at night and is released as the evening goes on to help keep you asleep. The melatonin level increases were higher than those boosted by over-the-counter melatonin supplements. Exposure to blue light during the evening hours is highly responsible for the reduction of sleep quality all over America. Because sleep is vital for the repair of your body’s systems, it is important to do everything in your power to protect your sleep mechanisms.
The study participants also wore activity monitors and sleep monitors day and night to allow the researchers to measure their sleep patterns. All 22 subjects of the study reported a 24-minute increase in sleep duration, the ability to fall asleep faster and deeper sleep during the night.
The Blue Light Bane
Although the largest source of blue light is sunlight, blue light can also be found in devices using LED lights. These include computer monitors, computer screens, television screens, iPads, smartphones and tablets. Blue light stimulates alertness and regulates the circadian rhythm responsible for sending you to sleep and waking you up. Artificial LED light activates the photoreceptors in your brain that suppress the production of melatonin, thereby leading to decreased sleep quality and broken sleep patterns. This tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime when it is not, leading your body to be constantly jet lagged even though you haven’t travelled at all.
Use With Care
Although over exposure to blue light can be detrimental for your melatonin levels, you do not need to completely cut out your use of devices before bedtime. You can limit your use of devices and use blue blockers on your screens or wear blue blocking glasses to decrease the amount of blue light you are exposed to. Some devices are even equipped with nighttime settings that drastically reduce the exposure to blue light. Certain apps can also be downloaded that have the ability to change your screen’s brightness with blue blockers.
To your gains,
Kusha Karvandi, PES, CES, CSCS