Blue Light Might Be Why You Had A Shit Sleep Last Night

A New Zealand study suggests humans aren’t the only ones out of whack, plants and animals are feeling the brunt of artificial blue light too.

Constantly feel like you are chasing after a decent night sleep? Did you wake up this morning feeling more tired than when you actually got into bed? Well, overexposure to artificial blue light could be the one to blame for this “perpetual jetlag”.

A Royal Society Te Apārangi study released today finds that our constant ‘plugged in’ lifestyle is getting in the way of not only our body clock but the surrounding wildlife as well.


Blue light is a high-frequency wavelength that peaks naturally in the middle of the day.

The paper, Blue Light Aotearoa, insists we need our daily dose of blue light, particularly in the morning, to wake us up and keep us active. Although, we need to cut off this supply in the evening so our body knows when to wind down.

But Dr Lora Wu, Senior Research Officer at Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre and a contributor to the report said because we are glued to devices that emit blue light all day and night, sleep is elusive because our body is always confused about what time of day it is.

“This not only disrupts our sleep but can have a range of negative flow-on effects to our health, such as increased risk of obesity, depression and potentially some types of cancer,” said Dr Wu.

But the good news is, reversing all this could be as simple as replacing blueish-white light bulbs with warm yellow ones, reducing screen brightness, using night-time apps which reduce blue light emission or, god forbid, turning our devices off when we are heading to bed.

But it’s not just humans who are out of whack. Plants and animals also use light to regulate their body clock and when they can’t escape our persistent blue glare their feeding behaviours, reproduction and pollination get messed up too.

So be a good human and only use warm outdoor lighting when you need it and use curtains to stop light intruding on that poor family of hedgehogs that like to wander in your backyard every night.

Follow Zoe on Twitter.