Published: 16 June 2016

Discovering how blue light affects sleep

Disruption of our circadian rhythms due to genetic or environmental cues results in reduced quality of life and increased morbidity for millions of people every year.

Surrey Sleep Research Centre’s cutting-edge research has informed scientific and public understanding of how light affects attentiveness and impacts sleep, in particular highlighting the importance of short wavelength blue light.

Professor Skene’s pioneering research on blue light discovered how it could increase alertness, improve mood and affect emotional brain responses. This has had implications for the design and use of lighting in workplaces and schools, as well as lighting standards. The benefits of blue-enriched lighting regarding attentiveness, productivity, health and well-being, are now being utilised in personal, commercial and healthcare settings.

In one recent study, the team have worked alongside Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust to measure short-wavelength light emissions from everyday devices.

Examining tablets, e-readers and smartphones, the research recommended that future devices should be better optimised when night-time use is anticipated. For example by developing hardware to create an automatic 'bedtime mode' that shifts blue and green light emissions to yellow and red, so as not to affect the user’s quality of sleep.

To find out more about Surrey’s sleep and chronobiology research, visit Surrey Sleep Research Centre or Professor Skene's academic profile.

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