“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
I think that we can agree on the fact that light is essential. However, not all light is created equal. Light can affect us in many ways. If we are waking up exhausted, it may not be our diet or stress that is causing it – we can probably blame the junk light we get exposed to.
Let’s look at how different type of light affects us, and how we can deal with junk light.
What Is Natural Light?
Natural light consists of direct or indirect sunlight. It gives us a full spectrum of light.
In WildFit, a central principle is that the closer a species adhere to its natural diet, the healthier it is. The same goes with light. We are evolved to function with natural, full-spectrum light.
“The more closely a species adhere to their natural evolved diet, the healthier that species will be.”
– Eric Edmeades
Artificial light does not match the full spectrum as natural light. Some artificial light is ok, but others can affect us negatively.
We can categorize food as junk food. This is non-functional food that can be harmful to us if we consume it on a regular basis. We can also classify light the same way; junk light!
What is junk light?
Junk light can be described as a light that can negatively affect us with too much exposure over time.
Many of the newer artificial lights that we use today, such as LEDs and compact fluorescents many frequencies such as violet, red and infrared light is eliminated and emits much more blue light that we find in natural light.
The Problem With Blue Light Over-Exposure
One of the most damaging things with junk light is that it has a high unnatural amount of blue light. Much more than we are evolved to handle.
Some exposure to blue light is beneficial. Blue light exposure in the morning and during the day can wake us up and make us more alert. Blue light can also be used in treatment for such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), jetlag, and premenstrual syndrome. (Strong et al., 2009)
Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, our sleeping hormone, and can affect our circadian rythem. If we are exposed to a high amount of blue light, especially in the evening, it can lower the sleep quality.
Today we are bombarded with artificially amplified blue light from many different sources, such as LEDs and compact fluorescents, and screens from devices.
Over-exposure of light has been linked to several health issues. This article list the following health issues (Asprey, 2018):
- “Cancer: A recent study found a direct link between blue light exposure and an increased risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. People exposed to high levels of outdoor blue light, like street lights, at night had a higher risk of developing breast cancer and prostate cancer, compared with those who were less exposed (Garcia-Saenz et al., 2018). Other studies have found that a disrupted circadian clock increases your risk for cancer (Sancar et al., 2010).
- Diabetes and weight gain: A 2016 study found that adults who were exposed to blue light while eating in the evening had higher glucose levels, slower metabolisms, and more insulin resistance compared to adults who ate in dim light. (Spiegel, Tasali, Leproult, & Van Cauter, 2009)
- Heart disease: Too much blue light disrupts your sleep, and too little sleep increases your chance of developing heart disease (Reitz & Martino, 2015). Blue light is also linked to obesity and metabolic disorders, which are both significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- Vision loss: Blue light can lead to macular degeneration — damage to the retina that often leads to vision loss (Tosini, Ferguson, & Tsubota, 2016). More than 11 million people over the age of 60, including my father, have some form of macular degeneration, so it’s an issue that hits close to home (“Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Facts & Figures,” 2015).”
How Can we Protect Yourself From Junk Light?
We have to remember that light can be absorbed not only through our eyes but through our skin as well.
There is a couple of things we can do:
1. Go outdoor
Go outside in natural daylight. Let as much skin as possible get exposed to direct daylight*. We need sunlight to activate and utilize vitamin D (by turning it into vitamin D sulfate).
*Disclaimer: do not get over-exposed by intense sunlight.
2. Reduce time in front of screens
Reduce the time in front of screen and devices, especially in the evening. Make a commitment not to scroll on your mobile when you are in bed. Read a good book instead!
You can also install free software for your computer called f.lux.** It reduces the blue frequency emitting from your computer screen.
**Disclaimer: We have no affiliation. Just a solid tip.
3. Change light bulbs
Change out LEDs and compact fluorescents with halogen or incandescent.
4. Wear rock star glasses
Maybe you have seen these crazy yellow or red glasses people are wearing? I am actually wearing a pare right now while I am writing this article. Some people think I look insane, other think I look like a rock star.
I have one pair of yellow glasses that block some of the harmful frequencies, and I have a pair of red glasses that block out all the frequencies that disrupt my circadian rhythm.***
***Disclaimer: We have no affiliation. Just a solid tip.
5. Darkness Can Be Your Best Friend
“Hello darkness, my old friend.”
– Lyric from Simon & Garfunkel
An excellent hack for better sleep is sleeping in a completely dark room. Block out all the lights in your bedroom. Use tape to cover any light can affect your beauty sleep. Seriously, try this! You have probably never had better sleep in your life!
As you have probably understood by now is that all light is not created equal. Junk light has a negative effect on us, and probably more than we are aware of.
It can feel a bit overwhelming with all of the things mentioned above. The most important thing is to start with something. Here are some suggestions. Choose ONE thing you can start with this week:
- Spend at least 15 minutes outside in natural daylight. Expose as much skin as possible.
- Install f.lux on your computer.
- Block out all light in your bedroom.
- Check what type of light bulbs you have in your home. Start by changing light bulbs in one room.
- Buy glasses that is blocking out junk light.
What is the ONE thing you are going to do this week, to reduce junk light in your life? Comment below!