The warm summer months we’re experiencing here in the northern hemisphere bring a whole host of health effects on our bodies. While longer days in the sun allow more time for our bodies to produce vitamin D and develop a nice tan, too much sun can lead to painful sunburns, an increased risk of skin cancer, and appearance of UV wearables that never seem to catch on. And while summer days for many also bring the excitement of traveling, a holiday abroad often means jet lag, weird sleep schedules, and simply adjusting to being on a different part of the Earth.
While sleep aids like melatonin or Benadryl, or stimulants like caffeine, are often used to try and reset circadian rhythms, there are many high-tech devices that have been developed over the past several years that use light therapy to improve sleep without the side effects of drugs.
You may already possess one solution if you use an iOS or Android device. Both now have a feature that reduces the amount of blue light emitted from your smartphone or tablet’s screen during scheduled periods of time. Numerous studies have shown that blue light suppresses the generation of melatonin that our bodies produce, and decreased melatonin levels are linked to difficulties falling asleep and less restful sleep.
In addition to reducing the amount of blue light that passes through our eyes, several companies have developed smart lights that can be programmed to emit red light, which is said to stimulate melatonin production. The Lucero smart bulb is one light that is popular (and recently got the approval of the widely renowned wellness authority Khloe Kardashian). We also reviewed the Sleepace Nox system a few years ago that combines light with background sounds and environmental sensors to improve your sleep.
Further down the color spectrum and (hopefully) many hours into your blissful sleep, green light is said to be the most effective at waking you up and helping you feel alert by suppressing melatonin production. Acting like artificial sunlight, green light can stimulate the brain and trick it into thinking that it basically is a different time of the day. This kind of light therapy can be beneficial for those whose sleep rhythms have been disrupted by light, a change in shift work, or jet lag. Several years back, we wrote about Re-Timer, a device worn on the face like a pair of glasses that emits green light toward the eyes. Recently, we had a chance to try out a similar product being developed called Pegasi. Like Re-Timer, Pegasi works by shining green light at your eyes, but Pegasi was lighter, far more portable, and has a longer battery life. Wearing Pegasi or Re-Timer for 30 to 60 minutes immediately upon waking or at specific times is said to be sufficient to reset your circadian rhythms with just a week or so of wear.
If hot summer nights are keeping you up, or your recent cross-country flight is putting your brain in a fog, consider trading the sunlight for some carefully applied red or green light to help you fall asleep better and wake up refreshed.