Have you noticed how bright the newer streetlights are these days? Although they save energy and are great for visibility, these new LED streetlights disrupt the body’s internal clock and sleep-wake cycle. Our bodies are finely tuned to cycles of day and night and bright lighting at night impacts metabolic processes and raises disease risk.
In fact, the effect on human health from LED street lamps is so significant the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a policy statement.
It warns the rich blue light the LED street lights emit are five times more disruptive to the human sleep cycle than traditional street lighting. It also points to recent large surveys that link brighter residential lighting with reduced sleep, poor functioning, and more obesity. These long term health effects from LED lighting increase the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
The bright, blue-white LED street lights also strain the eyes and can cause problems walking or driving safely at night. Enough blue light can even damage the retina.
How the AMA recommends cities make night time lighting safer for health
The AMA offers suggestions to cities to make the LED street lamps friendlier to humans (and area wildlife, which is also impacted by the lighting):
Lower the color temperature of the lights away from the blue end of the spectrum towards the orange. Blue lights signal to the brain it is day time and to shut down sleep hormone production. Current lights have a color temperature of 4000K to 5000K. Compare this with orange-red fire and candles, which humans have used for most of history, at 1800K. The AMA recommends lights be no bluer than 3000K.
- Better shield the lights to reduce eye-straining glare.
- Using adaptive controls to dim or extinguish the lights.
- Residents around the country complain about bright blue street lights
People who don’t know anything about science can feel the negative effects of these lights. Residents in cities where they are installed are lodging complaints, saying the lights make their neighborhoods feel like a car lot or strip mall parking lot. Many people have the insides of their homes lit up by the LED street lamps, especially in hilly areas such as Seattle.
Davis, California residents found them so objectionable they managed to get the city to agree to replace all existing LED streetlights with lighting that is healthier for the human body.
Should you wear sunglasses under LED lighting to protect your health?
It’s dangerous to wear dark glasses at night obviously. But that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself from LED streetlights if you must regularly be exposed to them.
You can safely protect your health by wearing lightly tinted orange or rose glasses that aren’t sunglasses. Examples include affordable Uvex safety glasses from Amazon orange glasses from Low Blue Lights (these glasses are more expensive because they are scratch resistant), or rose tinted migraine glasses.
These glasses alter the color of the light hitting your eye without blocking light, so you can still see. (However, if it is difficult to see at night, it’s important to prioritize safety while driving or walking and not wear tinted glasses if need be.)
Also, cities register complaints, so if your neighborhood has been overtaken by bright blue lighting, be sure to add your voice.
It’s especially important to avoid blue light at night indoors too
The biggest offender when it comes to night time blue lighting confusing your sleep-wake cycle is in your own home. Televisions, smart phones, tablets, computers, and LED bulbs bombard you with too much blue light at night, hindering the production of sleep hormones, disrupting metabolism, and raising your risk of disease.
Ways to make your home friendlier to your metabolic clock at night:
- Avoid use of LED screens at night (we realize that’s a long shot so offer the following ideas)
- Purchasing orange bulbs for lamps
- Use orange filters to put over your screens
- Wear orange glasses a couple of hours before bed
Hashimoto’s low thyroid and autoimmune help in South Jordan, Utah; St. George, Utah; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Albuquerque, New Mexico
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.