- Find out how these new lights may be slowly ruining your health
- Insomnia and lethargy, and excessive sleepiness, oh my!
- Plus, three solutions to help you achieve a good night’s sleep.
Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
Back in April, I started to experience sleep problems — the type of sleep issues that can really mess up your routine and take a toll on your personal and professional lives.
I found myself increasingly grumpy, always tired, and rarely able to remember things clearly.
To be fair, though, my sleep issues started way before the spring.
You see, my apartment isn’t exactly a slumber-friendly zone. I live on the second floor of a building that faces a busy downtown street. The city noise doesn’t make for the best sleeping conditions, but I found a quick fix for that — earplugs.
Once those were a part of my nightly routine, I started to sleep soundly again and figured my sleep problems were gone.
Well, until the first week of April, that is. Then, suddenly, I found myself struggling with sleep again, but this time it was even more intense.
After a few weeks of switching up my bedtime routine with no results, it dawned on me what changed — the streetlights.
The city had changed all of the street lamp bulbs. And since I’m on the second floor, they shine directly into my bedroom. We will discuss these new and potentially harmful bulbs in just a bit.
And as it turns out, this type of lighting isn’t just messing with my sleep; it could be messing with yours too. In fact, this new lighting is so dangerous the American Medical Association warns against the use of it in public areas.
The AMA Sheds Some Light On The Subject
This month, the AMA urged communities to think twice before swapping out their antiquated incandescent bulbs for newer and much brighter LED streetlights.
While LEDs produce brighter light and are more energy efficient, they come with some health costs, especially for folks who live near them.
Incandescent lights, which have long been the standard for street lighting, produce more yellow and red wavelengths. These are similar to the light produced by candlelight or fires — the light sources humans used before electricity.
LED lights produce white and blue wavelengths, which are almost nonexistent in the older bulbs. In fact, since LED light is so concentrated, it can cause a severe glare and damage to the retina with high exposures.
This could cause vision impairment for folks driving or walking at night, which may result in serious road hazards. This is especially true for those who live in areas where LED bulbs aren’t shielded.
Right: Los Angeles streetlamps with incandescent bulbs.
Left: Los Angeles streetlamps with LED bulbs.
Another issue the AMA addressed is the impact on human sleeping patterns, or circadian rhythms, because LED light interferes with melatonin production.
In fact, white LED lights can have an estimated five times greater impact on circadian rhythms than incandescent bulbs. The AMA warns that recent surveys found brighter lights to have great effects on the sleep of folks in residential areas, including, according to surveys, “reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning, and obesity.”1
In an unpublished report, the AMA recommends communities use warmer “3000k” LED lights versus the harsher “4000K” version in order to protect citizens from potential dangers.2
Switching to LED bulbs has been encouraged by the U.S. Department of Energy as a way to save both money and energy.
In addition to Baltimore, cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York have made the switch.
If these LEDs are headed to a street lamp near you, get some blackout curtains and a sleep mask. With these two items, plus my earplugs, I can get a good night’s sleep.
If you need a little extra help hitting the sack, try our Nature’s Sleep Solution.
Nature’s Sleep Solution combines seven different ingredients to help you enjoy restful sleep at night and wake up refreshed in the morning. The star ingredient, L-theanine, has been shown in human studies to promote a calm, relaxed state. This helps calm your mind while the other herbs relax your body. Nature’s Sleep Solution also contains melatonin, the “sleep switch” that signals to your body that it’s time for bed. Click here to learn more.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily