Blue Light and Exercise Recovery

In light of the current situation with COVID-19, there is no doubt that the time we are spending on our screens is hitting a big spike. More screen time means more time absorbing blue light. Knowing what blue light is and when to use it, can make a huge difference to sleep quality, recovery, and therefore results from the hours of effort invested into your exercise.

Blue light is the type of light that possesses a greater amount of energy than other visible colours, meaning it has more potential to harm the human body. Contrary to popular belief, our body actually relies on this source of light, because it manages our internal body clock- which is known as the circadian rhythm.

There are natural sources of blue light, such as the sun and atmosphere, and there are artificial sources, such as mobile phones and laptops. Natural sources of blue light suppress melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep, which is beneficial first thing in the morning when we need to be alert. Artificial sources, when used after evening darkness, trick the brain into thinking that natural light is still present, leaving us wired up and alert, which ultimately results in stress and a restricted sleep.

From a recovery point of view, a restricted sleep elevates cortisol and reduces growth hormone secretions respectively, meaning a greater likelihood of getting sick, poorer recovery post exercise, and lower productivity levels at work. Fortunately, studies show that sleep can be dramatically improved by staying away from blue light for 30-60 minutes before bed. Reading hard copy books and meditation are great evening screen time activity substitutes. These remedies have been proven to effectively reduce sympathetic nervous system activity, which is imperative for quality rest. If artificial sources are too difficult to stay away from in the evening, blue light screen filters such as flux are the next most effective barrier of defence with regards to dimming its intensity and ensuring a good night’s sleep.

If you’re keen on learning more about this topic, or want to understand how to recover from exercise more effectively, get in touch with us at Absolute Balance from our experienced team of Exercise Consultants.

Jeremy Boyle

Exercise Scientist