Does Blue Light Affect Our Health?

bluelight

Over the past few years, there has been plenty of debate about the effects of blue light can have on us. While techies applaud the convenience that brighter, clearer screens offer our hectic schedules, sleep gurus and skin experts have warned about the implications they can have on our sleeping patterns and complexions. 

Last year, a study found that blue light can be detrimental to our eyes and cause damage to our cornea and retina. Researchers from the University of South China warned that we should take protective measures, especially at night to help prevent putting our eyes under oxidative stress.

Earlier this week, another study highlighted that it could be possible that blue light doesn’t just damage our eyes, but it could also affect our brain. Scientists at Oregon State University looked at the effect of blue light has on fruit flies and found that even if it’s not shining directly into your eyes, blue light can damage the neurons in your brain. 

“There is evidence suggesting that increased exposure to artificial light is a risk factor for sleep and circadian disorders,” says co-author of the study, Eileen Chow. “And with the prevalent use of LED lighting and device displays, we are subjected to increasing amounts of light in the blue spectrum, since commonly used LEDs emit a high fraction of blue light.”

Wait, what is blue light?

From your laptop to your smartphone, pretty much every screen in your home emits high-energy visible (HEV) or ‘blue’ light. Even some of your light bulbs give off blue rays. Why have we moved to blue light? Well, essentially it’s super bright and allows you to see your screen clearly in sunlight and it is thought to help boost attention and mood levels.  

How does it impact your body?

Blue light hasn’t been around for long enough for us to fully understand how it affects us, however scientists have been exploring the topic. Plenty of experts agree that blue light can disrupt our circadian rhythm and light exposure at night has been shown to decrease our melatonin (sleep hormone) levels. 

A couple of years back, a study compared the impact of blue light with green light when it comes to our body clock and found that the former suppressed our melatonin levels for twice as long. So, if you’re the kind of person who wakes up in the middle of the night and reaches for your phone, it’s time to take note and potentially invest in a gentler bedside lamp.

There have also been murmurings about the impact of blue light on our skin and some brands have even brought out formulas that promise to help protect our complexions from the premature ageing that is believed to be triggered by our screens.

Can you protect from blue light?

Aside from living by candlelight and limiting your screen time, a very easy trick is to change the light settings on your phone, laptop and computer. If you have an iPhone you’ll find this in your settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift, which you can set a timer for. While there’s not a lot of research around the benefits of the Night Shift setting, it does highlight how bright the standard blue light setting is and will help limit your exposure in the lead up to bedtime. There are also protective blue light filters in the form of glasses and phone cases. 

If you find it hard to get to sleep at night it is worth taking Cherry Night by Viridian as cherries help to boost your melatonin levels over time. Admittedly the powder does take a couple of weeks to kick into action, but you will notice that it is easier to drift off if you take it consistently every night around an hour before you want to go to bed.

For those who are concerned about the damage blue light is doing to their skin and potentially the rest of their body, it’s worth increasing your intake of antioxidants to help protect against free radical damage. Look to supplements such as astaxanthin and fulvic acid to help protect your body. We recommend Ful.Vic.Health Fulvic Acid Elixir – those who prefer tablets should try Ionicell. Fulvic acid is a fabulous antioxidant and it provides 65+ essential macro and trace minerals to your body (learn more about the benefits, here).

While a lot more research needs to be done to discover exactly how to protect our skin from blue light, dermatologists tend to recommend applying a good quality antioxidant, such as a good vitamin C serum. Regardless of your budget, Garden of Wisdom’s Vitamin C Serum 23% and Ferulic Acid is a good place to start and if you want more of a treatment mask, try Lixirskin’s Vitamin C Paste.

This is an area of research that is going to continue to evolve though. “Human lifespan has increased dramatically over the past century as we’ve found ways to treat diseases, and at the same time we have been spending more and more time with artificial light,” says Chow. “As science looks for ways to help people be healthier as they live longer, designing a healthier spectrum of light might be a possibility, not just in terms of sleeping better but in terms of overall health.”

Can A Full Moon Really Affect Your Health?

full moon

Whether you’re someone who reads their horoscopes every week religiously or you dismiss them as vague captions that could be interpreted in hundreds of ways, there can be no denying that astrology is becoming increasingly popular. With a full moon on 14th September, you can expect plenty of full moon rituals and astrological predictions to fill your newsfeeds. For those who don’t keep up-to-date with the position of the moon, we’re in the midst of Virgo season and the full moon, also known as the Harvest Moon, falls in the sign of Pisces this month. According to astrologers, it’s the time to refine your organisational skills and put plans into action.  

While you could write this off as gobbledygook, it might interest you that the scientific world has been exploring how the lunar cycle affects our health for years. Admittedly the studies have been small and few and far between, but there is enough to continue the research and attempt to separate the science from the folklore. 

Are menstrual and lunar cycles linked?

With both moon and menstrual cycles lasting around 28 days, it’s easy to see why the two have been linked in the past. ‘Mooning’ is still a term used by some when they’re on their period and there are apps that will track your menstrual cycle along side the moon’s. A tiny study in 2005 found that women who ovulated during the full moon and fell pregnant at this time were more likely to have sons. However, the concept of aligning your menstrual cycle with the moon’s is tricky as lifestyle, genetics and hormones play key roles. 

Can a full moon affect our mood?

For years there have been whisperings of the full moon altering people’s moods. A three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley jail in Leeds in 1998 found that the number of violent incidents spiked during the days either side of a full moon.

Ten years ago a study monitored the amount of patients admitted to the Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre at Calvary Mater Newcastle in Australia. Out of the 91 patients with violent and acute behavioural disturbance, 21 occurred during the full moon, which equated to twice as many compared to other lunar phases. Two year prior to this, the police force in Brighton employed extra officers during full moons after they carried out research which found there was a rise in violent incidents.

Before you get carried away and start to fret about your mood dipping and anger levels rising this weekend, it’s important to note that all of these studies were very small and more recent research by the Eastern Ontario Research Institute ruled out any impact on behaviour. The study focused on the effects a full moon had on the behaviour and sleep patterns of 5812 children from five continents over the course of two months and concluded that it had no impact on the former.  

“Our study provides compelling evidence that the moon does not seem to influence people’s behavior,”  said the study leader, Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput. The only significant finding was the 1% sleep alteration in full moon.”

What about our sleep patterns?

Dr Chaput isn’t alone in his findings. The most credible study on sleep and lunar phases took place in 2013 and suggested that the amount of deep sleep we get each night can drop by around 30 percent at the time of a full moon. According to the University of Basel in 2013, not only does it take five minutes longer to drift off, but we can lose up to 20 minutes of sleep a night. Interestingly, the study ruled out the effect of light causing the sleep disruption by asking participants to sleep in a windowless room. They did note a drop in melatonin levels around the time of a full moon, which would explain why you might find it harder to fall asleep but not why to dip in levels occurs. 

However, at least come the next full moon you can ensure you don’t miss any sleep by incorporating Cherry Night by Viridian into your evening routine. Cherries can help top-up your melatonin levels and help you to drift off regardless of the position of the moon.

Is Overtiredness Stopping You From Sleeping

Clocks Going Back

Whether they go forward or back, the change in the clocks can often impact our sleep. This weekend, they’re going back so we can all enjoy an extra hour in bed on Sunday morning, but be warned, the days are about to get shorter and the cold, dark nights are going to become longer.

Sleep, or lack of it, is big business. In the US, its been reported that some have resorted to paying anywhere between $1100 and $5000 a month on sleep coaches in a bid to ease their insomnia. On the other side of the pond, since the clocks went forward in March, there has been plenty of discussion about sleep – how much we should be getting, how to get more et cetera.

But more recently, experts have been suggesting that overtiredness could be impacting the amount and quality of shut-eye we’re getting. Physiologist and sleep therapist, Nerina Ramlakhan told the Guardian, ‘We have become restless as a society – and that places more demands on us when we get into bed at night.’

‘We have lost the rituals and practices that gave us little respites during the day. In the past, you would go to the supermarket and, while you were waiting in the queue, you’d daydream, be a bit bored, look around,’ she says. ‘Now, any window like that will be filled by looking at your phone, answering some emails, sorting out your Amazon account.’

How can you reduce overtiredness?

The obvious answer might appear to be get more sleep, but as Ramlakhan has explained, too many of us are in constant overdrive during the waking hours that we’re too wired to relax at night. We should be looking at ways the tweak our lifestyle and introduce moments of respite throughout our days.

While it is easier said than done, limiting the amount of time you spend on your phone can help. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that those who don’t switch-off from work-related emails and activities at home struggle to relax and recharge for the next day.

The iPhone Screen Time app is a good way to introduce time restrictions on emails, social media and various apps. Putting your phone on DND (Do Not Disturb) between the hours of 6 pm and 7 am can also help ease you off late night work emails and mindless scrolling of your Instagram or Facebook accounts.

As with every article on sleep, we had to drop in meditation and yoga. Both practices are good at helping you to switch off and reconnect with yourself. If the idea of an hour of Vinyasa Flow feels you with dread, try swimming or joining your local bouldering club – both require you to leave your phone in the locker and keep your mind focused on the activity at hand.

If you get those moments of tightness in your chest or want something to help ease your stress, look to Magnolia Rhodiola Complex, £26. It’s a supplement we recommend time and time again for the simple fact that it does genuinely offer some relief. Interestingly, new research has also suggested that your other half’s body odour can also help you to de-stress, so keeping a T-shirt aside could potentially do the trick too.

What if you still can’t sleep?

If you’re still struggling to sleep after introducing pockets of rest during the day, it might be worth looking at your bedroom environment. Is the temperature cool enough? Is there any light coming through the curtains? And, is there a noise that could be silenced? None of these things are particularly ground-breaking, but a lot of us don’t have good sleep hygiene. For instance, not eating an hour or two before bed, or partaking in an intense cardio class too close to bedtime.

Upping your levels of melatonin (sleep hormone) can also help you to drift off (Cherry Night, £25.95, by Viridian is a good option). But, this does take a week or so to take effect. If you want a little helping hand in the first instance, look to Sleep Tight, £25.50, which contains a range of relaxing and sleep-inducing herbs, including magnesium, oat straw and ashwagandha.

How Much Sleep Should We Be Getting?

victoria-hall-sleep

Eight has always been deemed as the magic number when it comes to the amount of hours we’re supposed to sleep each night. Yet most experts cast the net wider and suggest anywhere between seven and nine hours will ensure you look and feel good. While some of us are lucky to get six hours of shut-eye a night during the week, earlier this year scientists revealed that you can catch up on lost sleep by pressing snooze at the weekend.

But, before you get carried away and whittle away your Saturday morning in bed, this week a new study revealed that you don’t need as much sleep as you think. According to new research presented at the ESC Congress, between six to eight hours of sleep is the healthiest amount necessary to ward off heart disease and strokes.

The study found that those who had less than six hours of sleep were 11% more likely to develop coronary issues, while those who got more than eight hours were 33% more likely.

Author of the study, Dr Fountas said: “Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart. More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation — all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease.”

So, how can you ensure you get the right amount of sleep regularly? Here’s some helpful tips…

How can you get a better night’s sleep?

First and foremost, stop worrying about the amount of sleep you’re getting. The more you stress about it, the less likely you are to drift off. If you struggle to switch off and stop your mind from whirling, we recommend taking Magnolia Rhodiola Complex. It’s a natural remedy to help reduce anxiety and relax your mind.

Other tricks, such as keeping your bedroom cool and banning any digital devices at least an hour before you go to bed can also help. Upping your magnesium levels will also help. Despite being a key mineral, a lot of us are deficient in magnesium, which can affect our mood, energy levels and sleep patterns. The best way to absorb magnesium is by taking a bath with flakes. If you don’t have a bath, try Better You’s Magnesium Sleep Lotion and massage it into your feet before bed.

What are the best natural remedies for a good night’s sleep?

Shabir has written several pieces on Cherry Night by Viridian and regularly recommends it for the simple fact that it works. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and the lightly flavoured powder helps to top up your natural levels over time. You do need to persevere with this supplement though as it takes at least two weeks to feel the benefits.

If you prefer taking a capsule, try Sleep Tight by World Organic. It has a blend of magnesium, magnolia and tart cherries to help you relax, unwind and drift off. You just need to take two capsules an hour before bed.

What if you’re getting too much sleep?

When it comes to sleep the focus is often on not getting enough, but there are some people who feel like they can sleep forever and yet still wake up feeling groggy and tired. “This is often because you have too much cortisol, the stress hormone,” says Shabir. It’s worthwhile taking Magnolia Rhodiola, or looking into adaptogens, which help to reduce stress and boost your energy levels. “Moringa helps increase resistance to stress, whether this stressor is physical, chemical or biological,” says Shabir. “It also helps to bring the body back into balance no matter where the stress is coming from and it does not interfere with the body’s normal functions.”

Adding a couple of spoonfuls of Moringa Green Superleaf Powder to your morning juice or smoothie will help you feel a little more energised. And, you can sprinkle it on your salad or mix it into your soup to recharge throughout the day too.

Why You Should Press The Snooze Button

Snooze

For years we’ve been told that the key to a healthy sleep pattern is to stick to a routine. If you’re a 6.30am riser during the week, you should stick to the same clock at the weekend. New research this week suggests that using the extra time on your days off to catch up on lost sleep could be more beneficial in the long run. Read More…

How To Combat Stressed Out Skin

stress

A whopping 82 percent of Brits feel stressed out at least once during a typical week. While a new study by the University of Queensland might recommend taking a five day break from social media, a lot of us believe most of our stress is  work-related rather than Facebook-induced. According to AXA, three in five Brits take business calls outside of working hours, while more than half check their emails. This ‘always on’ culture is pushing more and more of us to the limit. Read More…