Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

The Global
Information Hub for
Lighting Technologies
and Design

Sections
Home > Technologies & Research > University of Manchester Scientists Suggest Blue Light Not So Disruptive to Sleep as Thought
HCL | HCL-Research | Biological Effects | Health | Dec 18, 2019

University of Manchester Scientists Suggest Blue Light Not So Disruptive to Sleep as Thought

Contrary to common belief, blue light may not be as disruptive to our sleep patterns as originally thought. According to the team, using dim, cooler, lights in the evening and bright warmer lights in the day may be more beneficial to our health. Twilight is both dimmer and bluer than daylight, they say, and the body clock uses both of those features to determine the appropriate times to be asleep and awake.

Current technologies designed to limit our evening exposure to blue light, for example by changing the screen color on mobile devices, may therefore send us mixed messages, they argue.

This is because the small changes in brightness they produce are accompanied by colors that more resemble day. The research, which was carried out on mice, used specially designed lighting that allowed the team to adjust color without changing brightness. That showed blue colors produced weaker effects on the mouse body clock than equally bright yellow colors. The findings, say the team, have important implications for the design of lighting and visual displays intended to ensure healthy patterns of sleep and alertness.

The body clock uses a specialized light sensitive protein in the eye to measure brightness, called melanopsin, which is better at detecting shorter wavelength photons.

"We show the common view that blue light has the strongest effect on the clock is misguided; in fact, the blue colors that are associated with twilight have a weaker effect than white or yellow light of equivalent brightness" says Dr Tim Brown.
This is why, say the team, researchers originally suggested blue light might have a stronger effect.

However, our perception of color comes from the retinal cone cells and the new research shows that the blue color signals they supply reduce the impact on light on the clock.

Dr Tim Brown, from The University of Manchester, said: "We show the common view that blue light has the strongest effect on the clock is misguided; in fact, the blue colours that are associated with twilight have a weaker effect than white or yellow light of equivalent brightness.

"There is lots of interest in altering the impact of light on the clock by adjusting the brightness signals detected by melanopsin but current approaches usually do this by changing the ratio of short and long wavelength light; this provides a small difference in brightness at the expense of perceptible changes in color."

He added: "We argue that this is not the best approach, since the changes in color may oppose any benefits obtained from reducing the brightness signals detected by melanopsin. Our findings suggest that using dim, cooler, lights in the evening and bright warmer lights in the day may be more beneficial. Research has already provided evidence that aligning our body clocks with our social and work schedules can be good for our health. Using color appropriately could be a way to help us better achieve that."

The paper Cones support alignment to an inconsistent world by suppressing mouse circadian responses to the blue colors associated with twilight is published in Current Biology.

Acknowledgements:

The study is published in Current Biology and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Reference:

News release from The University of Manchester – December 16th, 2019:
https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/researchers-discover-when-its-good-to-get-the-blues/

FEATURED

When Very High Light Output and Efficiency are Required for Demanding Applications, New LUXEON 7070 Checks All the Boxes

When Very High Light Output and Efficiency are Required for Demanding Applications, New LUXEON 7070 Checks All the Boxes More lumens, higher efficacy, and lower system costs are the driving forces behind new designs for a broad range of indoor and outdoor high light output applications. Lumileds new LUXEON 7070, introduced today, is designed to outperform similar lead-frame and ceramic high-power solutions with ... Read more »

FEATURED

NEW Extreme High Power LEDs Deliver Best Optical Performance

NEW Extreme High Power LEDs Deliver Best Optical Performance New XLamp® XHP70.3 LEDs deliver the best lumen density, reliability and optical control available in a 7x7 mm footprint.   Read more »

FEATURED

Edison Opto UVA + W & UVC Series Customize Design Solution

Edison Opto UVA + W & UVC Series Customize Design Solution Edison Opto offers customized UVA + White and UVC solutions for continuous disinfection to reduce bacteria and airborne viruses. In the wake of the global outbreak of COVID-19, the people’s need for anti-epidemic, sterilization, and anti-virus products has escalated, ranging from portable ... Read more »

EDITORIAL

deLIGHTed Talks: Good Light – Good Life in Wintertime, November 3, 2021

deLIGHTed Talks: Good Light – Good Life in Wintertime,  November 3, 2021 The Good Light Group, together with the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms (SLTBR), the Daylight Academy (DLA), the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), and Luger Research (LR), are organizing and presenting the “Good Light – Good Life” lectures. The webinar ... Read more »

page_peel