Week two: Blue Light Experiment

After two weeks of a dramatic change in behavior with regards to light diet and sleep effects, any longer term changes? How is the family coping?

I’m now two weeks into elimination of electronic lighting after 9PM to gauge it’s effects on my particular circadian rhythm. I’ve had a general increase in sleep quality. Sleep quality is approximated for me by using wake-up time and wake-up grogginess as a proxy. I figure if I sleep better I will awaken earlier and be more awake when I do.

For me, awaking early has traditionally been defined as pre-1000. Now I have to shift that for this experiment to pre-0815. This must be done because at no time in the last week have I awakened past 0900. I have an alarm I used to snooze several times starting at 0815 in an experiment to shift my wake-up time. That experiment failed to achieve it’s goals. This one is succeeding.

Now nearly every day I awaken before my alarm and on days I don’t, I don’t snooze it. I can not understate how dramatic this is for this insomniac. Not snoozing alone would be a tremendous benefit, but beating my clock awake is a surprising turn of events.

Now, as to how “strict” I’ve been. There have been a couple lapses this week in the precise timing. A couple times it was closer to 10PM. Nonetheless the sleepiness was still setting in and my awakening time varied by less than the lateness of the lights off cutover. A side note on sleepiness.

For me, historically I generally don’t get sleepy. I am awake until my body gives in and simply goes to sleep - usually after a couple to several hours of trying to coax it there. So even getting sleepy more than 5 minutes before being asleep is tremendous.

Now, as to the family’s experience.

Mostly the adjustment has been reasonable. Tami was at first excited about cutting a shopping swatch through candle sections across town. Shopping spree over, we are settling into the ramifications of not using electronic lighting after 9PM.

First and foremost is the timing of her being out with friends or shopping, dinner, and her Facebook-on-her-iPad addiction. Our rough spots are late dinners. If dinner doesn’t happen until eight or later, cleanup often pushes the boundary of 9PM. Doing dishes by candlelight isn’t something we’ve tackled yet so on those fortunately rare occasions she winds up finishing it off or more rarely doing them herself. However, this isn’t terrible as we don’t generally dirty a lot of dishes for dinner - given the eating experiments going on.

We did do family game night by candlelight - Rummikub this week. It was surprisingly more fun and with the candlelight the colors were not too difficult to distinguish. I had been concerned about orange and red numbers but the contrast was high enough to discern them with relative ease.

We have not yet started using red lights. I’m going to give it another week before trying them out. Fortunately once or twice per week of short e-light overage hasn’t proven to be a major stressor to the trial. But I do insist on not two consecutive nights as that proved to be a virtual reset button.



Bill Anderson avatar
About Bill Anderson
Just your frendly neighborhood curmudgeon!