The potential influence of LED lighting on mental illness

in health •  10 months ago

The potential influence of LED lighting on mental illness (Bauer et al., 2017)

Just finished this excellent review article, here are some highlights:

In the eye, rods and cones are for seeing stuff; ipRGCs are for non-imaging functions like circadian entrainment and how your pupils dilate in bright light. Melanopsin is the photon receptor responsible for this, it absorbs light in the blue/green range (which is also high in LED-lit stuff like smart phones and laptops).

Image result for incandescent LED spectrum

To be more accurate, daylight has a higher ratio of blue-to-red in the morning than in the evening. Importantly, red light at night does not suppress melatonin (so I put a red light bulb in the loo in case I need to pee in the middle of the night).

Incandescent's dominant wavelength is ~574 nm and we can see best around ~555 nm. LED is 482 nm and maximal melatonin suppression happens at ~460 nm and best circadian entrainment is ~480 nm. A lot of sunlight during the day makes you more resiliant against artificial light-induced melatonin suppression at night.

"Over billions of years, life on Earth has adapted to the sun."

I love that quote: over the last hundreds-thousands, peoples all around the world have thrived on a huge variety of diets but the one constant thing was the 24-hour light/dark cycle. In other words, circadian rhythms trump food. "Sunlight is the primary signal that entrains the human circadian system." Sunlight and breakfast in the morning is a good formula to co-entrain central and peripheral circadian clocks.

It is very important to restrict screen time of infants and children. They're more sensitive to blue light and most mental illnesses (eg, those associated with circadian arrhythmia) are diagnosed by 25 years of age. The authors mention mood disorders, PTSD, anxiety, schizophrenia, drug abuse, ADHD, and eating disorders.

"Another cause for concern is the routine use of digital devices by adolescents... A meta-analysis of studies involving over 125000 children found that bedtime use of mobile devices is associated with poor sleep outcomes." No bueno!

Tl;dr: sunlight and breakfast in the morning; ditch the tech at night or at least install a blue light dimmer and get some blue blockers .

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Very interesting article. Especially imortant for parents of young children to read.


Thank you! And yes, I agree, very important for new parents.

Excellent article Bill. Stian from Facebook;)


Hey @healthpac (Stian), thanks! Glad to see more people on this platform.


I have been a patron of yours for quite some time now and I'm happy that people with your kind of knowledge have started using this platform. Just as I told you on FB health articles are not the main focus on here but I hope that will change as people like yourself start to use this platform. And specially all these traders need some education on all the blue light stuff(and some green). Good luck to you sir


Thank you, Stian. I'm humbled.

Thanks for reviewing the article (unfortunately paywalled) and for the additional info!