Night Lighting – Protecting your hormones

If you are going to stay up all night awake and doing things, there are some intelligent choices and investments to make.

ALL LIGHT STANDARD BULBS – ALL COMPUTER MONITORS AND TV SCREENS – ALL THINGS MODERN THAT EMIT WHITE, GREEN OR BLUE LIGHT – HAVE DRASTIC EFFECTS ON YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM! 

In fact “While monochromatic blue light suppressed melatonin production via melanopsin stimulation, polychromatic white light (which includes blue light) stimulated melanopsin equally while suppressing melatonin to an even greater degree.” You can save your self a lot of health problems and sleeping issues by altering your lighting conditions, and it is really really easy and cheap!

It should be known by every polyphasic sleeper that melatonin (a hormone) is produced by your body, naturally, at night. Unfortunately if your skin and most importantly your retinas are exposed to UV, Blue Spectrum light, or Green Spectrum light then your body will stop producing melatonin! You might have read about it on here or here, people have been talking about it for a long time, but haven’t really come up with any good solutions for setting up a home for night time… cheaply!

Note that his may be useful only for schedules that contain a core sleep like E3, DC1 or Segmented sleep… where melatonin is an important part of the homeostasis of the schedule. If you are planning on doing uberman, it may still be worth it (for health reasons) but you will need to work out how you can benefit from high melatonin without disturbing your schedule.

Orange UV/blue-safe Glasses

The first option is to wear some cheap red safety glasses at night.

For those of you who do not have the option or do not like wearing glasses (or glasses over glasses) there are some other options.

UV/blue-safe Lightbulbs

Many brands of blue-blocked lights are very expensive, so this is a DIY guide as much as it is an article on sleep hygiene. Fix half your home with Night Lights and Fixtures so you can use normal bulbs in the day and when company is over, and you can use the Night Lights and Fixtures when you are alone at night doing your thing.

Using Night Lights and Fixtures will help set your circadian rhythm in place, which will help with all schedules that have a core sleep, and will improve your health (and body composition.)

Choosing Lightbulbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

800 Lumens is a decently bright light, and should light up a room well. You have several choices of lights for this level of brightness –

  1. 9-13W LED 
  2. 18-25W CFL
  3. 75W Incandescent
  4. 50W Halogen

Comparatively (for both the environment, heat safety and your energy bill) LED lights are the best choice. They are slightly more expensive than other bulbs, but they are worth the money and if you do some searching around there are new companies developing cheap LEDs you can buy online.

Here is one example of a cheap Red 220V 10W E27 LED.

Make sure you get the right fitting and power for your country. This is a B27, each country has a different light bulb standard!

Changing the Colour of a blue-emitting light bulb

If you have chosen a lightbulb that emits blue/green light, now you need to know that there is no blue/green light coming out of your chosen lightbulbs. You need a safe, heat resistant way of doing it!

Safelights are a certain type of lighting photographers use to limit the spectrum of light coming from lighting fixtures in their darkroom. They need to do this because otherwise their films will ‘fog’ or even get destroyed! If a safelight is good enough for a film, it will be good enough for your Night Light.

There are many ways to make safelights, the most popular ways are to either buy a safelight filter, but this can be very expensive. The cheap alternative to a light filter is called ‘Rubylith’, which is a safelight film sheet people use for art. Whilst this is useful for other things as you will see below, it is still not the best way to quickly fit out your home with safe lighting.

Buy red Ceramic Resin Enamel Engine Paint.

Spray your new blue-emitting lightbulbs with 2x separate coats of your spray paint, and let each coat dry. When you first turn on your light bulb you might get a bit of a smell, so keep the windows open, but there should be no more problems after the first use.

Moniter and Screen Fixtures

This is where the Rubylith becomes useful, not for lights, but for covers for your monitors and screens. You can construct an easy fixture by simply buying:

  1. Rubylith sheet
  2. Sticky Velcro Buttons

Cut the Rubylith sheet to the correct size, then attach sticky Velcro buttons to the sheet and to your monitors. In the day time you can take the fixtures down by detaching the velcro, and in the night time you can attach the sheet fixtures to cover your monitors and screens again so that you have no blue spectrum light effecting your melatonin!

A note on Red Vs Amber or Orange colour filtering.

There are a lot of ‘blue blocking’ products out there that use amber or orange coloured devices. While Amber lensing may be more practical in some cases for night vision, red coloured products will be much more effective for one reason. Research shows that green light also blocks melatonin production, perhaps as much as blue light. Amber and orange coloured lenses may block blue light but not block green spectrum light, while red coloured protection will block both green and blue.

USING BLUE/GREEN LIGHT INTELLEGENTLY

If you have two cores because you are a segmented sleeper, obviously you want to be using blue and white light before you wake up from your second core. Cortisol spikes that help wake you up happen anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour after a change in light.

If you only have a single core, you should probably still use red light from sundown until sunrise anyway. You could consider E3, with a graveyard nap as a dual core schedule with it’s second core split in half. Following that logic you should allow production of melatonin until after the second nap because you can naturally ‘ride’ night time melatonin after your first core into a meditative state without feeling sleepy. This is because your body is producing other hormones and chemicals that compliment melatonin, such as prolactin, oxyrexin, dopaminenorepinephrinehistamine and acetylcholine to give you a creative or sexual state, and melatonin plays an important role in achieving that ideal night time wake-state.

If you cannot stay awake at night after your core during E3 while using melatonin-friendly lighting, then you might be struggling with hormonal issues (as other hormones are not balanced with the melatonin production.) You can cheat this by using bright blue lights post-core, but this means your body is detecting long days, which can be detrimental to health.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15713707 “Blocking low-wavelength light prevents nocturnal melatonin suppression with no adverse effect on performance during simulated shift work”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047226/ Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans”
Learning Lucid Dreaming!
October 4th, 2012 by

18 comments on “Night Lighting – Protecting your hormones”

  1. ealxele Reply

    1. Does the watts for bulb usage matter? Can you use a regular bulb at home or do you have to use one of 3 listed above?
    2. I was wondering, I have this application that automatically dims my laptop monitor (called flux), to about 3400 kilowatts (out of 6500 kilowatts). This helps the screen go from daylight to halogen. Do you think this would help with the blue screen or do you recommend me just getting the Rubylith screens?
    3. If I am doing Everyman 3, having my core at 11:30-3:00am, what time do you recommend cutting off white/blue light usage before my core nap?

    Thank you, this is all very useful information!

  2. Profile photo of Nade Nade Reply

    Wattage does matter, the less the better, but it is silly to be bumping into things so have the light how you like it IMO.

    Flux is the poor man’s version of a ruby cover. It will reduce the blue spectrum lumens (and you can reduce it more by turning your contrast down to minimum), but your screen will still emit blue light.

    Start using night lighting at about 8.30pm if you are bedding at 11.30. Three hours seems enough.

  3. Profile photo of Nade Nade Reply

    Fire is also a good option compared to normal house lighting. Reading or bathing by candle light is really relaxing for me. Once again, I think rubylith wins over candle light because of how specific the technology is in filtering light, but candle light apparently has it’s own benefits, so I use both, depending on my activity.

  4. Nobody Reply

    Hi Forevernade,

    I’m intrigued by the lighting solution using spray paint. How did you come up with this? Did you have this tested for blue light emmission or did you learn this trick from someone?

    I just ordered some bulbs from lowbluelights. Pretty expensive indeed. But that’s ok. These people are doing great things for promotion and research. So i’ll see this as money to support their efforts.

    Of course I wouldn’t mind using this paint tactic as well! Is the Duplicolor DE1620 the exact one needed? Or would other heat resistant orange paints work as well?

  5. Profile photo of Nade Nade Reply

    Nobody, I learned the spraypaint trick from a photographer I met a while back. He set up a darkroom with spare CFL bulbs, bought the red coloured engine paint and it didn’t destroy any of his work. I am just assuming orange paint is ok, red would be safer.

    I don’t think it would matter what brand, as long as it is heat resistant engine paint.

    I have linked a cheaper red LED light on ebay, you may find more cheap red LED 10W on amazon too. $10 a bulb is really not that much! Especially with free postage

  6. vlor Reply

    Is non-red light harmful at night when shined on skin, or just harmful when shined on eyes? Would you say something like 80% of the harm is done when shined on eyes, and 20% harm when on skin? I assume orange safety glasses would be fine (as opposed to red), yes?

    I’m just trying to figure out if I should put red sheets in front of my computer screen (to protect skin) or if orange safety glasses are enough.

    I also have incadescents on when brushing teeth and going to the bathroom, which takes <5 minutes, so I am also assuming <5 minutes of non-red light exposure to the skin wouldn't significantly stop melatonin production

    • Profile photo of Nade Nade Reply

      Skin is sensitive to light too, I won’t cite here, but I remember reading a study where they shined a small but intense blue laser on the back of the knee and it stopped melatonin production completely… none went in the eyes.

      Orange is good, red is better. Depending on the quality, orange can let some green light through which is as time-clock altering as blue light. However orange is certainly better than nothing and probably has the advantage of better clarity at night (because you are getting a wider range of light frequencies than from red lenses).

      This is why the more expensive route of using covers and light bulbs without glasses is going to be healthier, but I am sure there is still a great advantage to using glasses alone.

      Every time you are exposed to light it acts as a reset button… signalling to your body that it is not night time.

  7. jpek Reply

    Hi, there. I really like your idea of painting a conventional light bulb, but I’m wondering if you’ve tried testing how much blue or green light it still might emit. I’m trying to optimize my home for melatonin production at night, and it’s entirely unclear to me how to tell how much blue light is actually present.Folks who do this hard-core say that it’s not enough for a light to “look red.”

    Also, have you had any problems where the paint causes the light to overheat after a time and burn out?

    I am much more tempted to get amber lights rather than red, because they seem so much nicer and they’re easier to read by. But it’s a bummer to learn that green light is equally problematic and Amber definitely includes some green

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  10. Philip Reply

    You should try this program called f.lux. It automatically gets rid of the blue/green light in your laptop screen in accordance with the sunrise and sunset. It also has a fully night mode that is just red light. Super helpful.

  11. Profile photo of David Renkl David Renkl Reply

    How much time per day do I need to produce enough melatonin? Isn’t it useful just to produce melatonin while sleeping in order to create a certain regularity? I am trying to adapt to the Dymaxion cycle which would mean only 2 hours a day to produce melatonin. I expose myself to light whenever I’m awake and use an eye mask while sleeping during the day. I feel like that’s helping my body to learn when to be awake and when to sleep. Am I wrong?

  12. Jordan Reply

    Nade,

    Excellent post! Most people worried about blue light completely leave out the dangers of green light, which in the short term, stifle melatonin production in equal proportion as blue. I applaud your thoroughness! I will only quibble with one aspect: I don’t believe you need red LEDs to achieve the desired effect. Single color native LEDs, like lasers, emit in only a very narrow bandwidth. Native amber LEDs emit essentially no blue or green light, as evidenced by this spectrograph from the LEDmuseum: http://ledmuseum.candlepower.us/ledamb.htm

    I actually started my own company producing native amber LED book lights for this very reason. To me, they offer all of the melatonin-preserving benefits of red lighting, without the eerie, difficult-to-read-by color. If you want to check out the native amber book lights and desk lamp I designed check out: http://Somnilight.com

    I’ve also collected even more of the most up-to-date research on light, melatonin, and health under the “research” tab. Check it out!

    Anyway, great article!

  13. Phil Reply

    Regarding the safety glasses, can’t small amounts of light deep in through the uncovered parts of the glasses, wouldn’t some type of goggle be better? Or is about decreasing overall blue/green light as opposed to eliminating it?

    Thanks

  14. Jen Reply

    Please could you tell me if altering the colour of your computer screen itself will work?
    I’ve put the red up to max and the blue and green down to zero.
    Lots of thanks.

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