Color goes much deeper than just seeing. We actually feel it. Why? Because color is a wavelength that penetrates our skin.
The color blue is expansive, even dreamy. It is dependable and connotes a sense of trust (think Ford or American Express). Blue can also represent a dampening of our disposition, like the character Sadness in Pixar’s Inside Out. So, it’s no wonder that blue light has the same polarity as the hue.
The main source of blue light comes from being outside. Outside, daylight can do wonders, helping with moods and reaction times. The man-made source of blue light, however, cannot boast such positive effects. What is concerning is that our exposure to man-made blue light has become more pervasive with computer screens, flat-screen televisions, smartphones, and tablets. Studies suggest that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device.
Blue light can wreak havoc on our health. Even dim blue light suppresses a person’s melatonin secretion and their circadian rhythm, which can lead to sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep has been linked to increased incidence of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Harvard researchers did an experiment comparing the exposure of blue light vs. green light, and they found blue light suppresses melatonin for twice as long as green light. They also studied the circadian rhythms and found they shifted by twice as much. Changing our nighttime computer habits will help. f.lux® developed a cross-platform computer program that can adjust a display’s color temperature according to location and time of day, all leading to a reduction of blue light exposure.
Our eyes have little natural protection against its damaging effects. In fact, blue light penetrates the retina so it can damage sensitive cells. The retina is a very thin, multi-layered tissue covering the inner eyeball. The retina can be harmed by high-energy visible radiation of blue/violet light that penetrates the macular pigment found in the eye. A paper published by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) reports that "the blue rays of the spectrum seem to accelerate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) more than any other rays in the spectrum". Thankfully, there are eyewear companies, like Felix Gray, making specialized lenses to block blue light from our eyes, including some that help increase melatonin production.
Globally, blue is the world's favorite color but understanding emanating blue light is imperative. A balance should prevail, minimizing blue light by night and maximizing blue light by day. This balance helps to cultivate our body clocks to perform and feel more refreshed by day while facilitating a good night’s sleep. Remember to take breaks from your screens and go for a walk outside, the natural blue light can be just what your body needs!