Blue Light Special (aka Sleep, What’s That?)

For older American shoppers, the “blue light special” had a special meaning years ago.StarryNight_by_Van_Gogh

For people who need sleep, it has a special meaning now.

According to researchers at the University of Houston, the blue light from computer and LED TV screens disrupts sleep patterns.

Blue light is a major component of sunlight. However, it is also emitted by LED screens. It suppresses the production of melatonin, the chemical that prepares the human body for sleep. Basically, the blue light from the device tricks the body into thinking it’s still daylight.

In an experiment, when younger adults (17 to 42 years of age) wore special blue spectrum blocking glasses to bed, they

  • Showed a 58% increase in melatonin levels
  • Fell asleep faster
  • Reported better quality of sleep
  • Slept 24 minutes longer

Why does this matter?

  • Up to 40% of Americans have reported some disruption to their daytime activities due to loss of sleep.
  • Impacts include
    • There’s loss of focus at home and friction with family.
    • Loss of productivity at work or school.
    • Risk of suicidal behavior.
  • Then there’s the all-night binging at computer games. This may play a key role in understanding that behavior.

Sleep matters.


  1. Lisa A. Ostrin, Kaleb S. Abbott, Hope M. Queener. Attenuation of short wavelengths alters sleep and the ipRGC pupil response. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 2017; 37 (4): 440 DOI: 10.1111/opo.12385
  2. University of Houston. “Artificial light from digital devices lessens sleep quality: Melatonin skyrockets when blue light is blocked.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2017. <>.
  3. Dan Douglas, “All-night gaming binges: why do we do it, and what does it do to us?” Gamesradar, June 2017.
  4. Donovan Vincent, “16-hour video game binges almost ruined Calgary teen’s life,” The Toronto Star, 5 March 2017.

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