Our entire being is tuned to a delicate internal clock called the circadian rhythm, signaled by the daily, lunar, and seasonal cycles. Without us being conscious of it, this clock governs our body functions, appetites, menstrual cycles, hormones, and sleep-wake cycles. The internal body clock and its effect on our metabolism are well-established and documented. Dinacharya-diurnal, Ratricharya - nocturnal and Ritucharya - seasonal regimens advocated by Ayurveda, attune our bodies to the subtle energies of these rhythms.
Since the origin of life, the sun has been the only primary source of light to us, until now. After 100 years of disruption caused by artificial lighting, we now fully understand the damage it may cause. In the spectrum of Visible light, the range between 380 to 500 nm is called high energy visible light (HEV), commonly known as BLUE LIGHT. All artificial bright light sources, like screens, white light bulbs, and fluorescent tube lights, have a high HEV.
How do they affect you?
To put it simply, it makes you more alert. Bright light tells your brain to be hyper-aware of your surroundings. To some extent, it improves cognition and memory too.
But, the body needs rest, lest we experience burnout. Life goes about in circles of productivity and rest. It is inherent to all living matter. On overexposure, slowly the body starts experiencing stress. Compensatory mechanisms to counter this stress, in the long run, can precipitate metabolic issues like Thyroid disorders, PCOD, Hypertension, Type 2 DM, Chronic stress, fatigue, and sleep quality deterioration. (1)
Many experts also recommend using Sunscreens indoors to prevent skin damage.
Indeed, the exposure to blue light is still less indoors than out in the sun. Still, the delicate circadian rhythm was not prepared for constant exposure to light even after sunset to late in the evening from an evolutionary perspective. Thus we truly need some coping mechanisms.
1. Skin : Anti Aging care: Antioxidant-rich cosmetics may help combat the free radical stress on the skin, protect the collagen, and correct pigmentation issues. Ayurveda has a rich inventory of herbs that scavenge free oxygen radicals.
2. Metabolism: Limiting screen time after sunset: Needless to say, this may contribute positively to the weight loss you have been trying to achieve, upkeep your insulin sensitivity (4)(3), or even keep the thyroxine dose as low as possible.
3. Eyes: Carotenes are proven to reverse the effects of blue light on skin and eyes. Carrots, Pumpkins, Red and Yellow bell peppers, Broccoli, Spinach, and organic Cow’s ghee are a great addition to your daily diet. (5)
4. Mood: Change the night lights to a warm yellow. New age Screen blocks also diminish the white lights from your screens. Replacing all white light sources, especially at night, is proven to aid eyesight positively and reduce physiological signs of stress.
5. Sleep: Wind down your work on screen before sunset, and make early nights a habit. Mathew Walker vehemently reiterates the importance of sleep. Take leisure beyond the glare of bright lights. Take a walk by the starlit sky. Challenge someone in a board game instead of a video game. This may balance your melatonin (sleep hormone) surge and promote sound sleep.
Summary : Artificial lighting affects our Skin, Metabolism, Eyes, Mood and Sleep. It is here to stay, We definitely cant wish it away. Let's accept it's detrimental effects and move on to find ways to attune our lives around the natural rhythms of sunlight. It may keep the skin radiant, eyes sharper, and body younger in the long run.