Wednesday 28 September 2016

Can't get nod off? Energy-saving lightbulbs can prevent good sleep

Replacing filament bulbs with energy saving lighting could impact sleep because they produce more blue light, a professor has warned.

Sarah Knapton

Published 30/05/2015 | 12:35

Energy saving light bulbs could impact your sleep
Energy saving light bulbs could impact your sleep

Modern energy-saving lightbulbs could prevent people from sleeping because they emit more blue light than traditional lighting, a sleep expert has warned.

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Professor Debra Skene of the University of Surrey said that, where possible, householders should try dimming the lights in the hours before bedtime so that the body can prepare itself for sleep.

But she said that it was more difficult now that so many overheard incandescent tungsten lights had been replaced with energy-saving bulbs.

Speaking at the Hay Festival Prof Skene said: “It’s about how much light gets to your eyes and the brighter it is the longer you have it on for and the more blue that is in that light.

“If it is a light that has a lot of blue LED lights you will have more of an effect. If you want to reduce the effect on staying awake at night and to try and sleep you should turn down the intensity, you should’t be looking at it for too long and you should try and have light around you in the room that’s less blue.

“So in fact those old tungsten lights that they are trying to get rid of, for energy reasons, it wasn’t for biological reasons because they are very good non-body stimulating lights.

“You can get all kinds of things now which can reduce the lighting on your computer screens. With that knowledge you can adjust your own lighting environment.”

Nearly six in ten people in Britain now get seven hours of less sleep a night putting them at risk of cancer, diabetes and heart attacks.

The number of sleep deprived Brits rose by 50 per cent last year as people increasingly use smartphones and computers before bed.

Blue light is present in morning light so energy-saving bulbs as well as blue light from computer screens, or smartphones use can trick the body into thinking it is still daytime, speeding up the metabolism and making sleep difficult.

The number of sleep deprived Brits rose by 50 per cent last year as people increasingly use smartphones and computers before bed.

Prof Skene said the move towards a 24 hour culture where one in five people now works shifts was creating a health timebomb.

“With this 24 hour society we really are living against our clocks and this has health consequences that we are only just beginning to understand,” she said.

“Shift work is a risk factor for some of the major disease like breast cancer, prostate cancer metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

“If we can understand the mechanisms behind these changes then we would have the opportunity to develop treatments minimising the effect of shift work on our bodies.”

Prof Skene suggested that people who prefer the morning , known as ‘larks’ could be encouraged to work earlier in the day that ‘owls’ who are likely to be more suited for nightshifts,

Some scientists already believe they have found the part of the brain which can reset the body clock and hope to develop drugs which could switch off the ill effects of shift work or jet lag.

Telegraph.co.uk

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