Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute

What do gamers know that will benefit your reading, learning and allow you to sleep better?

Answer – the best way to remove the biggest factor that interrupts your sleep, slows down your reading, gives you headaches and puts you under a lot of visual stress.

What is that factor? Yup, you guessed it – blue light is the culprit.

Blue light from artificial sources is nasty stuff, and it’s everywhere. From your device screens to LED lights and lightbulbs, fluorescent lights, plus many streetlamps outside you are literally surrounded day and night by artificial blue light wavelengths.

While a completely balanced source of blue light that includes other wavelength-forms is healthy for you, such as sunlight, man-made blue light can wreak havoc on your eyes and body.

When you’re sitting at your computer or laptop for hours, you’re exposing yourself to a lot of blue light – and your eyes aren’t evolved enough to spend this kind of time staring at a screen.

So, they rebel. You get headaches, visual strain, worsening eyesight, and you don’t get high quality sleep because your circadian rhythm is interrupted with unnatural blue light.

Meanwhile, because of the visual stress when you constantly read on a computer or phone screen that emits blue light, your eyes and brain are working that much harder than necessary to learn new information. No wonder you may have to reread things or read more slowly – the glare feels awful and you may not even realize it.

Combined with disrupted sleep, which is an extremely important aspect of learning and memory, this can translate into lower grades in school and poor performance at work.

So, if blue light is the issue – is there a way to block it? You bet!

And can the solution to all these problems be as simple as blocking out blue light?

Again, yes, it can and here’s why.

Table of Contents

My First-Hand Experience Blocking Out Blue Light

The 1-Minute Discovery

The Science of Blue Light

Why Does Blue Light Wreak Havoc on Your Body, Sleep, Learning and Memory?

What Can You Do to Block Blue Light?

My First-Hand Experience Blocking Out Blue Light

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute As an author, course creator and brain coach, I spend hours on the computer every day.

This is in addition to the hours I spend reading information on my phone.

Staring at the computer and phone screens day and night – with all their blue light, finally took its toll. I was not sleeping well, my eyes hurt all the time. They were dry and irritated, and it lowered my productivity.

Plus, I kept thinking I needed glasses because the print was beginning to blur a little.

But at first, I didn’t realize why all this was happening. I could have chalked it up to normal aging, but when I first noticed this, I was already way past the time optometrists say you may need glasses, so I wasn’t sure that was the issue.

Then I saw a simple ad for “blue light” blocking glasses. It intrigued me so I clicked on it.

My 1-Minute Discovery

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute After I looked over the ad, I spent days researching blue light and the negative impact it can have on your eyes.

As a reading and learning expert, I also wanted to know whether it could impact reading and learning. I spoke to optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Both had similar comments about the possible dangers and side effects on your eyes when you spend too much time looking at computer or phone screens.

Following my research, I decided to use myself as a test subject.

Here’s what I discovered when I started wearing my new blue light blocking glasses.

The first minute I put them on – the eye strain stopped.

I was more than intrigued at that point. It felt like my eyes were lighter and not straining any longer.

Next, I had more energy and my productivity zoomed up quickly.

Then, I noticed I slept better that first night and from there my sleep quality got better and better.

This was really important because in my course, Total Recall Learning, one of the strategies I teach is how new information you learned during the day, processes into your long-term memory during your sleep.

total recall learningmastering habits
memory skills made easy

So if your sleep is interrupted and you have tons of light in your room (hint – you should have complete darkness in your room and if you don’t, get a sleeping mask or throw a t-shirt over your eyes), not only is your health impacted negatively but so is your learning and memory.

These blue light blocking glasses are awesome – plus I found clip-ons if you wear regular glasses and just want to add them without having to get a prescription.

The thing I love most is that blue light blocking glasses work instantly – so here’s the science breaking down how.

The Science of Blue Light  

What is Blue Light?

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute For physics 101 fans – remember the seven colors of the visible light spectrum, in other words the colors of the rainbow?

The easy way to remember the colors is the Roy G Biv acronym: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

These colors make up the range of light that your eyes can see.

Infrared, which goes above the red end of the visible light spectrum, and ultraviolet, which goes below the spectrum, are both invisible.

All these colors of the visible light spectrum come together to create white light, and this is the light you get from the sun.

What sets these colors apart from one another is their wavelengths and energies.

You already know that lights are basically rays, right?

The longer the wavelength of these rays, the less energy they have. The shorter the wavelength, the more energy they have.

Blue light falls within the range of the shortest wavelengths, and the highest energy.

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute Blue light naturally occurs in sunlight, and is even good for you when you’re exposed to it during the day.

But blue light exposure all day and after sunset from LED lights, fluorescents, being on a screen for hours even after and after sunset is an unnatural degree of exposure that your body is not built for.

Why Does Blue Light Wreak Havoc on Your Body, Sleep, Learning and Memory?

How Blue Light Affects Your Eyes

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute Blue light scatters a lot more easily than the other colors in the visible light spectrum – this is actually the reason why the sky appears blue!

The more blue light scatters and reflects off of water and air molecules, the more blue a clear, cloudless sky appears to the eye.

Unfortunately, the way blue light scatters can make it difficult for your eyes to focus.

When you’re reading on a screen emitting blue light, because your eyes are having a hard time focusing, they pick up less contrast.

In other words, it’s harder for your eyes to make out letters and the outlines of objects, causing visual stress.

This makes your eyes work much harder than they would have to, to make out what you’re seeing on the screen, and ends up causing digital eye strain (DES).

Digital eye strain, or computer vision syndrome, affects around half of all computer users – an estimated 200 million Americans experience DES!

If your eyes feel tired, irritated and/or dry after spending time looking at screens, you’re having trouble focusing on what you’re seeing, and you’re getting headaches the longer you’re looking at your computer or phone, you’re one of the many people experiencing blue light induced DES.

total recall learningmastering habits
memory skills made easy

That’s not all. Your eyes are not great at blocking blue light, and some eye doctors say long periods of exposure can damage your retinas, which contain light-sensitive cells responsible for receiving visual input and sending out signals to your brain to make sense of them.

Over time, blue light exposure may even cause permanent damage to your vision, like causing or speeding up macular degeneration, which wears down part of your retina.

How Blue Light Affects Sleep – Melatonin Slows or Stops When Exposed to Blue Light 

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute Your retinas contain cells which detect blue light and then send out signals to your brain to slow down or completely stop producing the hormone melatonin.

Here’s why that’s a bad thing. Melatonin regulates your circadian rhythms, or simply put, your body clock. When it’s night-time, in natural conditions, your melatonin production increases, and you start feeling sleepy.

During the day, when your retinal cells detect naturally occurring blue light, it helps keep you alert, awake, and able to concentrate on your day-time activities by suppressing melatonin.

At night, however, continuing to expose yourself to blue light from artificial sources like the lightbulbs in your home, LEDs all over your bedroom, or reading on your phone or computer just before sleep, can mess up your sleep cycle.

Studies show that just two hours of blue light exposure can reduce melatonin production enough to make it difficult for you to fall asleep.

One study finds that participants who used e-readers for five days at night saw a 55% drop in melatonin levels compared to those who were reading physical paper books.

People using the e-readers were getting less Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) sleep and feeling more tired and unfocused the morning after.

(As a side note – the nighttable light I use in my bedroom has two settings – one for during the day (emitting the type of light that mimics daylight, and the other is more of an amber which takes out the blue light).

The implications of blue light are pretty serious, because sleep is an extremely important part of your brain’s learning and memory-creating process.

Sleep is Important for Long-Term Memory Creation

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a MinuteWhen you drift off to dreamland, your brain doesn’t stop being active.

Your hippocampus and neocortex use the time when you’re asleep to review what you learned through the day, connecting the dots with what you know and creating original ideas from them.

So, if you don’t get adequate rest, you’re damaging your ability to learn and recall information in the long run.

Scientists find that people recall what they learned better when they take a short nap right after learning, and that those who get enough sleep perform better in school and at work than those who don’t.

Sleep Helps Regulate Your Mood and Focus

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a MinuteThat’s not all – another player in your learning and memory, your amygdalae, also regulates negative emotions like embarrassment, anxiety, stress, fear and so on.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your amygdalae grow in size.

They produce a form of brain waste, causing brain fog that ends up making it harder for you to focus, remember what you’re learning, and overall keeps you in a bad mood when you wake up.

Sleep Affects Your Dopamine Levels

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a MinuteNot getting enough sleep also reduces the level of dopamine in your system the morning after. Dopamine is a brain chemical that keeps you alert and motivated; lower levels of it in turn make you feel demotivated and groggy.

As you can see, although bringing your phone to bed or scrolling through your social media in the hours before bedtime might seem harmless enough, it can severely hurt your learning and memory.

In fact, professional athletes often use blue-light filtering glasses because too much blue light can damage their ability to perform the following day simply by disrupting their sleep!

total recall learningmastering habits
memory skills made easy

What Can You Do to Block Blue Light?

Of course, one of the easiest ways of limiting blue light exposure is to limit your screen time. Power down your devices a couple hours before bed, opt to read or relax in a way that doesn’t involve watching Netflix or using your phone.

However, for everyone who has no choice but to use their screens for prolonged time periods, for learning or for work, or just can’t resist that little downtime with their devices, there are a couple of options to help reduce blue light in your environment.

Tinted Lenses

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute Like the professional athletes, you can select blue light blocking glasses – but make your choice very carefully.

UV-blocking glasses and tinted glasses aren’t the same thing. UV-blocking glasses, as the name suggests, can filter out ultraviolet light, which isn’t visible to the eye.

Such glasses can protect your eyes from UV rays specifically, but to protect against damaging blue light exposure, you might want to consider some tinted lenses.

Glasses of specific tints can help filter out blue light.

Green lenses can filter out some degree of blue light, but the best options are within the warmer end of the visible color spectrum.

Rose or red tinted glasses can completely block out blue light and can reduce visual stress when using the computer or reading screens because they increase contrast.

As a result, your eyes can focus better on what you’re reading on your screen and work more comfortably.

However, this is not the color you want to use all the time.

They’re better used during the night-time to filter out artificial blue light, specifically when you’re on the screen; since during the day they can block out the good blue light too, it’s better to use these lenses after dark!

The same goes for orange tinted lenses, but experts recommend being cautious with this specific tint of lens. During daytime they might block out both the good and the bad blue light, and since they don’t block off blue light as effectively as red lenses, can still expose you to some blue light at night.

This can also mess up your circadian rhythms, so be wary before picking up orange tinted glasses!

Yellow glasses are better to use during the day, since they don’t completely block out blue light – they let enough of the good stuff from natural daylight in to keep your body clock running as normal, but also block out enough to reduce strain on your eyes.

Photochromatic Lenses

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute If you don’t want to wear tinted glasses, photochromatic lenses are an option. These lenses are clear, but they darken when in contact with UV radiation from the sun.

Aside from blocking UV radiation, they also filter out blue light both indoors and outdoors, so they’re great for protecting your eyes from damaging overexposure, but again, check with your eye doctor, since they are not all the same quality.

Screen Filters

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute Most smartphones and desktop devices can let you control the “warmth” of the color emanating from your screen, but even though these screen filters are there, I have not found the smartphone ones to be all that great.

You can pick warmer color filters for your phone and desktop screen, and time them so the warmer screens automatically switch on around evening and switch back in the morning.

If your device doesn’t come with an in-built setting which allows you to do this – you’d have to check the specific brand and model of your device – you can download a filter app to help!

Desktops running Windows 10 and the ones that will come after it have a Night Mode option which limit blue light and switch to more warmer colors for a specified, set time period. You can both adjust the duration of this time and the color temperature to suit what is comfortable for you.

Apple also has a Night Shift option which lets you do the same on your Mac!

There are also tempered glass screen protectors available that you can purchase to physically overlay on your device screen.

Colored overlays work really well too, and another company called Ocushield, offers a wide range of medically rated blue light blocking screen protectors for multiple devices.

Ambient Lighting

Life Hack Improves Learning and Sleep in Less Than a Minute Another source of blue light after dark could be from your environment – blue or white LED bulbs in your home or the street outside could also be disrupting your body clock and harming your eyes.

Instead, opt for more warmer lights more reminiscent of dusk or use the floor or night table lamps that I mentioned earlier.

Some experts even recommend using dim red lights in the evening, since these are far less likely to disrupt your melatonin levels, and using blackout curtains to keep artificial blue light from the outside coming in.

Even NASA has changed out all the lights at the International Space Station to lights which gradually dim and change to warmer color temperatures of longer wavelengths when it’s evening.

You can take a page out of their book and choose full-spectrum lighting, which basically mimics natural daylight, for your home or office space!

This 1-minute simple change to your daily life can make all the difference to your learning and productivity, by blocking out all the bad blue light your eyes are constantly exposed to.

Now that you know the science behind it all, say goodbye to the blue light and hello to the warmer light that is best for learning, memory, your mood and better sleep!

pat wymanPat Wyman is the CEO of HowtoLearn.com and an internationally noted brain coach known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert.

Pat’s superpower is helping people learn, read and remember everything faster. She has helped over half a million people in schools and corporations such as Microsoft, Intel and Google improve their lives with her learning strategies, learning styles inventory and courses, such as Total Recall Learning™. 

Pat is the best-selling author of more than 15 books, a university instructor, mom and golden retriever lover!

Related article