The written article is based on a summary of existing literature on the topic of infrared saunas. The article is for educational purposes and the information provided below cannot be taken as a promise to help with acute health problems or diseases. 31 references back the claims in the article. All references are numbered. You can access the text of the reference by clicking on the number.
Blue light LED therapy has become more popular lately. People use blue light for skin health or wakefulness, for example. But, there’s also a lot of fear around blue light - rightfully so - because it can impede health.
This blog post is part of a series on chromotherapy, that explores all visible colours of light:
In this blog post, we’ll explore “What is blue light” and suggest how you can maximise the health benefits of blue light while minimising the downsides! To get a better understanding, let’s explore what blue light fundamentally is.
What Is Blue Light? Blue Light Within The Visible Light Spectrum
What is blue light? You can find blue light within the “visible light spectrum”. Visible light is what you can see with your naked eyes (1; 2; 3; 4). With scientific tools, you’re also able to “see” other forms of light, infrared and ultraviolet light.
Visible light consists of all the colours of the rainbow. These colours are violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, and anything intermediary.
Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum. While infrared light makes you feel hot when you’re dwelling directly in the sun – ultraviolet light creates vitamin D in your skin and is what causes you sunburn. Infrared light is what we use in our Clearlight® Saunas to heat your body from the inside out.
Nowadays there are many sources of blue light in your environment, such as screens, LED bulbs, and any other form of artificial light, such as billboards. Sunlight also emits blue light, which is a tiny percentage of the total light output of the sun. That sunlight consists of a combination of ultraviolet, visible, and mainly infrared light.
Now that we've established how blue light fits into the visible light spectrum in comparison to ultraviolet and infrared light, let’s look at what blue light does with the human body.
And, as it turns out, blue light exposure affects your biology in a similar way that infrared and ultraviolet do:
Blue Light Exposure: Helpful Or Harmful?
Lots of science has been published on blue light exposure and health (5; 6; 7; 8: 9). On the one hand, blue light exposure is very harmful if you’re excessively exposed.
And, many people nowadays are because they’re working with computer screens and under artificial LED and fluorescent lights all day.
Screens and most forms of artificial lighting have been created to emit lots of blue light. The reason for that engineering choice is that the human visual spectrum is really sensitive to that colour. So, our environment is easier to see when a lot of blue light is emitted.
Excessive blue light exposure also has downsides, however. For instance, during the day, if you’re continually under blue light, you can start to feel anxious and stressed. The reason for that overstimulation is that blue light stimulates alertness.
For thousands of years, humans lived in nature with sunlight being the prime source of light. With sunlight, the blue light is always counterbalanced by the more relaxing red, infrared, and ultraviolet light.
Because of this, blue light exposure from the sun is not a problem (unlike excessive ultraviolet exposure, which gives you sunburns and causes mutations in skin cells).
After humans moved indoors, and with the Industrial Revolution, we soon invented electrical lighting. And, with technological progress, over time humans invented light bulbs that didn’t emit any infrared or ultraviolet light anymore, only light from the visible spectrum.
The assumption is that the non-visible light doesn’t matter because we can’t see it. That’s hardly the case. All types of light have biological effects.
For instance, far-infrared light helps your body detox, improves blood circulation, and counters pain.
The same is true for blue light. I’m not preaching doom and gloom here, blue light LED therapy can be a very helpful addition to your health regimen when it’s used correctly.
It's time to distinguish how you can best use blue light LED therapy.
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We’ve even chosen to equip our saunas with chromotherapy, which can emit blue light. We’ve posted extensively on what chromotherapy is, but in this blog, we will mainly feature the topic of blue light’s health effects.
Health Benefits of Blue Light Therapy
Let’s consider some of blue light’s health effects. I’ll list a few of them:
Can counter skin conditions such as acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis (10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17). How blue light exactly affects skin health isn’t known yet. What is known is that certain bacteria in the skin that cause skin conditions, such as acne, are impeded by blue light. Also, blue light may decrease inflammation in the skin.
Improves alertness (18; 19; 20; 21; 22). The human eye is not just a “camera” to see the world but also works as a clock to track what time of day it is. When blue light entered our ancestors’ eyes, it signalled to our brain that it was daytime. Even blue light from artificial light sources still has that effect, which is why you have trouble sleeping when using your mobile phone late into the night.
May enhance your mood (23; 24; 25; 26; 27). While some more research is needed here, blue light has positive outcomes in many studies. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occurs in many people who live in countries that have very dark winters. Even for non-SAD depressions, blue light may have a positive effect.
However,blue light side effects exist as well. Simply put, you shouldn’t be exposed to lots of blue light throughout the day if all other colours are absent.
Blue Light Side Effects
Exposing your body to blue light is like drinking coffee. One or two cups of coffee feel great - you’re more awake, energised, think more apparent, and motivated.
But what about five or ten cups? In that case, you’ll get anxious and stressed - at least most people do. Blue light has a similar effect, and because it is all around us all of the time, sometimes, you’ll have to limit your blue light exposure.
How To Optimise Exposure To Blue Light
Blue light exposure can be highly energising, and if you’re using chromotherapy in our saunas, adding some exposure to blue light can be a great benefit to certain things.
But, the benefits may all depend on how much exposure to blue light you are having in your daily life.
If you’re working in an office that uses LEDs or fluorescent lighting 24/7, adding more blue light can impact your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep cycle. Typically, blue light benefits you by being energising and supports your mood and alertness.
Because of this property of blue light, we recommend against using blue light chromotherapy late in the evening or at night.
The reason here is that the blue light tells your body clock that it’s daytime. This is how we've evolved on this planet, and this spectrum of the sun signifies this in our biology.
How does the body respond to blue light? By inhibiting melatonin production in the brain (28; 29: 30: 31). That's why excessive blue light at nighttime can impair your ability to sleep.
So, in the evening or later at night, you’re better off moving towards red predominance in chromotherapy.
During the morning or daytime, blue light exposure is better. You can even use the blue light strategically to feel more awake as if drinking coffee.
The high-energy blue light included in our chromotherapy especially boosts wakefulness, as opposed to longer blue light wavelengths.
While blue light can have its pros and cons as we've mentioned earlier, simply understanding how it impacts the body can easily help you navigate the proper use of it for therapeutic benefits. To round it all off, let's run through some simple tips to utilising the blue light in your Clearlight® Saunas medical-grade Chromotherapy device.
Blue LED Light Therapy Tips
Your ancestors didn’t need to manage their blue light exposure for hundreds of thousands of years. These ancestors were exposed to blue light from the sun during the day, and most of that blue light was removed at night, except for some very tiny amounts of exposure through moonlight.
Our modern world is different though - if you’re chronically overexposed, you can block blue light.
Blue Light Blockers
To filter blue light, you can wear blue-blocking glasses or install apps like F.lux on your computer. Smart screens can now have modes to minimise the overall exposure of blue light emitted.
While blue light blockers are great for spending long hours on the computer screen or using devices at night time, it is important to also remember that blue light isn't bad.
In fact, humans need blue light, and it is an important part of the visible light spectrum which has been ingrained in our evolutionary process.
You may have heard people say that blue light is bad, and you also may have seen people wearing blue light blockers during their everyday activities. This is actually a bad thing to do and not a healthy approach to minimising blue light.
Reducing Blue Light Exposure
Or, instead, you can avoid using digital devices a few hours before bed and improve your sleep that way. There’s no right and wrong strategy here - managing blue light exposure differs from person to person.
Knowing When To Use Blue Light Therapy
The biggest tip is knowing when to use blue light therapy. As mentioned before, earlier in the morning and day is the optimal time to benefit from blue light therapy while minimising the negative effects.
We hope you walk away from this blog with an understanding that blue light during the day can be highly beneficial, and that blue light at night is often counterproductive to some of its benefits.
As mentioned earlier, the stigma around blue light being bad for you isn't true, but knowing when and when not to expose yourself to it is important.