A U.S. Military-funded study recently revealed that the blue light, reflected off of devices such as smart phones and tablets, may aid in helping those who are recovering from mild traumatic brain injury, also referred to as a concussions.
Many patients tend to report feeling disoriented, losing consciousness (briefly), and seeing “stars” after such an injury; some recover without fully realizing they had a concussion at all. With that said, other patients can go weeks and months with signs of the condition, which can include memory loss, dizziness, mental fog, headaches, fatigue, and of course, sleep disturbance. In fact, approximately half of those with a concussion often talk about chronic sleep issues post-injury; in turn, this affects their recovery.
Lead author of the study, William D. “Scott” Killgore noted that concussions happen to be one of the most common injuries suffered by military personnel, as well as being a heath concern globally.
While there are no effective treatments for the condition, the team set out to see if a potential solution around recovery via sleep; as this is vital for brain health and recovery.
The trial gathered 32 adults with concussions and focused on strengthening their circadian rhythm, which is the term that refers to the natural 24-hour sleep-wake cycle.
This was achieved by exposing the group to blue light via a cube-life device from about ½ hour each early morning for a 6-week time period. Participants in the control group used amber lights, versus the blue.
Past research reveals that said “blue light” can stop the brain’s melatonin production, a chemical that makes individuals want to sleep. As a primary timekeeper for the brain, exposure to the blue light, much like sunlight, tells a person’s brain that it is morning, which essentially makes a person more alert, and starts the clock as to when you will sleep later on.
This blue like helped to reset the participants’ inner clock, which essentially aided them in falling asleep earlier than normal – and stay asleep – as such. On average, the group using the blue light therapy went to bed and awoke about one hour earlier than prior to the trial, and felt less drowsy during daily activities. Even more, brain-processing efficiency and speed enhanced for the participants, and they showed an improvement in visual attention.
So, why does the blue light emitted from mobiles, computers, and TV screens get such a bad rap when it comes to sleep? Timing! Blue light at night will trick an individual’s brain into thinking that it is morning, thus making someone feel alert before bedtime, versus sleepy.
Time to start using those devices first thing in the morning, and shutting them off about two hours before bed. Not only does it seem to help with concussion recovery, but it might also assist those who deal with sleep deprivation.