The Blue Light Problem

A month ago I enjoyed a 10-day Vipassana retreat at Dhamma Giri in Igatpuri, Maharashtra, my third.

Set against the backdrop of a solid mountain, lush in the dwindling rains of monsoon’s end, it was as before a profoundly purifying experience, and reminded me yet again of the centrality of the desirability of a serious pursuit of samata, equanimity. And yet again this commitment to equableness was tested during the retreat itself, this time by the fact that my immediate next door neighbor insisted on leaving both the light inside his room and the light just outside his room illuminated all night long, every night.

That we were committed to observing “noble silence” during the retreat made it unfeasible for me to suggest / protest / remonstrate in his direction, and once I adjusted to the fact that my retreat nights would be less dark than I would prefer (though darker at least than the nights in my Bombay neighborhood) I was able to let go all iniquitous stray thoughts (e.g. that of cutting the power line to my fellow citizen’s domicile) and to replace them with happier thoughts (at least his lights are not shining in my eyes i.e. things can always be worse). Compassionate, equanimous thoughts finally appeared, for verily he and everyone like him know not what they do.

Clearly they are as yet unaware of just how damaging blue light is at night, and if you are yourself not yet aware of nocturnal blue’s deleterious consequences please proceed directly to the internet and educate yourself. A good place to begin is right here.

“The absence of light, especially light in the blue spectrum, is how your body knows that it’s night.” And if your body does not know it’s night then no melatonin is released, and your health problems multiply. Some studies show that blue light contributes to cancer, diabetes and obesity rates.

But wait! All computer screens and all “efficient” lighting produce abundant blue! What to do, other than return to going to bed with the chickens and/or doing your reading Abe Lincoln-style by firelight? The first step is at least to protect yourself while you are not awake, which means to turn off ALL electronic devices in your bedroom before you go to sleep; yes, this includes your phone! If for some legitimate reason you can’t turn it off (“what if my aging mother has to summon me at midnight?”) then place it face down (not under your pillow!) where it cannot glower at you while you slumber!

The next step is to protect yourself while awake by buying some red or yellow-tinted glasses, to block out blue (and green) from your nighttime spectrum. Not long ago I was gifted a pair of appropriately-hued glasses with my reading prescription from which I promptly became inseparable as I find the positive effect quite palpable. They are in addition abundantly stylish(I have the “tortoise shell” model).

I talk a lot about screens and their potentially negative effects on us, so my media manager and friend Paula did some research to discover what the most effective blue-blocking glasses are out there. They being the only blue-blocking spectacles that I have used I am not able to proclaim to you that they are the best, but they are darned good, and other presumably objective sources do in fact identify them as among the best available.

Because I like them so much I reached out to the company and am able to offer you a 15% discount if you buy here using the code SVOBODA. (This is an affiliate link, so I make a small amount from referring you. I only affiliate with things I love and use myself.)

Please procure some blue-blockers and wear them regularly. Protect yourself from blue light after dark and before dawn, and enjoy your body’s gratitude!