Did you know that the light we expose ourselves to can have a major impact on our sleep and overall health? Unfortunately, many LED and fluorescent lights don't prioritize our well-being over cost and aesthetics, leading to disruptions in our circadian rhythm.
Here with us today is Dr. Martin Moore, an expert in circadian clocks and lights. With over 40 years of expertise, he'll share his insights on everything from the science of light to the negative effects of artificial nighttime light exposure.
Join us as we dive into the captivating world of circadian rhythms and debunk common misconceptions about light. You won't want to miss this illuminating conversation!
Martin Moore-Ede MD PhD is a leading world expert on circadian clocks and light. As a professor at Harvard Medical School, he located the human circadian clock.
He founded CIRCADIAN® Light Research Center which identified the key blue wavelengths that synchronize the circadian clock during the day and disrupt it at night, Based on this breakthrough patented & developed the first evidence based healthy circadian lights which improve sleep and circadian health.
In this episode, we discuss:
💡What sparked Dr. Martin Moore-Ede's interest in studying circadian rhythms that influence our sleep
💡The harmful effects of artificial nighttime light exposure
💡Innovative lighting solutions to avoid the adverse effects of blue light
💡Advantages and disadvantages of LED lighting
💡Do you know that wood fires and candles do not produce blue or virtual blue light?
💡Spectrophotometer - the device helps identify harmful blue light spikes in lighting
💡Kenneth Wright’s sleep studies on the relationship between sleep and the light-dark cycle
💡How controlling your light can improve your sleep?
💡Dr. Moore-Ede's helpful resources:
- SLEEP-friendly light bulbs SORAA zeroblue
- His website https://thelightdoctor.com/
💡 Dr. Martin Moore-Ede's new book, THE LIGHT DOCTOR, will be released in serialized form on Substack
at https://lightdoctormartinmooreede.substack.com beginning in June.
He is delighted to offer you a FREE subscription to check it out.
💡Busting some sleep myths about lights
💡What is Dr. Moore-Ede's sleep night routin?
Huge shoutout to our sponsor: Biooptimizers!
They are my nightly source of magnesium supplementation
go to www.magbreakthrough.com/sleepisaskill for the kind I use every night!
The information contained on this podcast, our website, newsletter, and the resources available for download are not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. The information contained on these platforms is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.
Welcome to the Sleep is a Skill podcast. My name is Mollie McGlocklin, and I own a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability and behavioral change. Each week I'll be interviewing world class experts, ranging from doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper.
Let's jump into your dose of practical sleep training.
Welcome to the Sleep is a Skilled podcast. My guest today wants to get warning labels on light bulbs. What does that have to do with sleep? Well, I promise we will connect all those dots and more, but first off, the name of our guest is, Dr. Martin Moore-Ede. He is a MD PhD, a leading world expert on circadian clocks and light.
As a professor at Harvard Medical School, he located the human circadian clock. He founded Circadian Light Research Center. Which identified the key blue wavelengths that synchronized their circadian clock during the day and disrupted at night. And based on this breakthrough, patented and developed the first evidence-based healthy circadian lights, which improved sleep and circadian health.
A quick aside before recording this. Podcast on Instagram, LinkedIn, all the platforms. If you're not following us on those, please follow us. Met Mollie Eastman, sleep as a Skill, and I had posted a bit about some of the findings that Dr. Martin Moore-Ede had discovered, and those posts got a lot of attention because we led with a little bit about his research in which he found that our light bulbs are wrecking our.
Sleep in our health out of his research. 248 leading circadian scientists with a total of 2,697 peer-reviewed publications on light and circadian clocks since 2008. Now support the use of lights that promote circadian health, including the addition of warning labels on these light bulbs. At night. So humans circadian clocks are highly sensitive to blue light wavelengths and exposure to insufficient blue, rich light during the day.
An excessive blue, rich light at night can lead to health problems, including of course. As it relates to this podcast, difficulties with your sleep. So we are gonna get into all that more. I think you're gonna be really, really interested and hopefully fascinated in this world of light and its impact on our biology.
As always, if you have any questions, head on over to. Sleep is a skill.com. In the lower right hand corner, we have a little sleep bot where you can ask any and all questions, send them our way. We really want to make this a dialogue. And also we are going to start doing a q and A series. So please put those questions of what you might be dealing with around your sleep, and we'll make sure to get some of those questions answered here on the podcast.
Now, without further ado, let's jump in. So I get a lot of questions around sleep supplements, and I'm very hesitant to just throw out a whole laundry list of possibilities. One, I don't think it's the most responsible thing to do. I really do believe in testing to see what types of supplements make sense for you.
And two, because I really truly believe that most of the things that you can do to improve your sleep are behavioral, psychological, environmental in nature, and often don't cost a dime. However, there is one supplement that I personally take every day and that I do feel quite comfortable with suggesting for most individuals to experiment with because a couple of reasons.
It's high safety profile and high rates of deficiencies in our modern society. Some put the numbers as somewhere around 80% of the population being deficient in this one area, and that is magnesium. So magnesium has been called the calming mineral, and some report that magnesium can increase gaba, which encourages relaxation on a cellular level, which is critical for sleep.
Magnesium also plays a key role in regulating our body's stress response system. Those with magnesium deficiency usually have higher anxiety and stress levels, which negatively impacts sleep as well. Now before you go out and buy a magnesium supplement, it's important to understand that most magnesium products out there are either synthetic or they only have one to two forms of magnesium.
When in reality, your body needs all seven forms of this essential sleep mineral. So that's why I recommend a product from my friends over at Bio Optimizers. They have created something called the Magnesium Breakthrough, and taking this magnesium before bed helps you relax and wake up, refresh and energize.
And while we don't recommend that you go two nuts on looking at all the sleep stage classifications on all your wearables. I will share anecdotally that many clients have reported improvements in their deep sleep trend numbers. Again, I don't want you going nuts on the sleep stage classification numbers on your wearables, but I do wanna let you know about that because I know that many of you do reach out on questions of how to improve your deep sleep.
So I also love that bio optimizers offers free shipping on select orders, and they offer a 365 day money back guarantee on all their products. Plus they have a customer satisfaction rating of 99.3%. Very impressive, and you can get 10% off magnesium breakthrough. Again, this is the same magnesium that I use every single night.
And finally, you can get 10% off magnesium breakthrough. Again, that's the magnesium supplement that I use every single night by going to www dot mag m a g. So mag breakthrough.com/sleep as a skill. And be sure to use the code sleep as a skill for 10% off. And welcome to the Sleep is a Skill podcast. This episode is really gonna be a deep dive into understanding the massive importance of light and dark on our sleep wake cycle, and I'm really honored to have our guest on the show today.
Martin, thank you so much for taking the time to be here. Glad to join you. Ah, thank you. So I shared with you before we hit record of some of the podcast episodes that we've done so far with different experts in the realm of, uh, light. And certainly you have a rich history in this area. So wondering if you can just share a little bit about your background and how you became interested in this research that impacts our sleep results.
Absolutely. Well, uh, my interest in circadian rhythms started out, uh, when I was back in medical school in England and then did a surgical internship, and I was working these 36 hour long shifts as a surgeon in training, walking around like a zombie. Off for 12, back in for 36 hours again. And I really got really intrigued in how could one manage, how, why did one get sleepy sometimes and not sleep at others?
And that got me interested in SAC rhythm. So I took a detour outta surgery to, um, do a PhD at Harvard Medical School and ultimately found a research lab at Harvard Medical School devoted to understanding what was causing these circadian rhythms. And this is before anybody knew about. Biological clocks per se.
My team at Harvard identified for the first time, the clock in the human brain is the clock that controls the timing of sleep and wake. It's called the super charismatic nucleus, sort of a pinhead size, a little nucleus in the old part of the brain, connected to the eyes and all our research. At that time, we knew it was synchronized by light.
We knew day and night would keep it in sync with the earth's rotation. We knew that our rhythms normally would be, you know, in good shape when we're seeing daylight during the day and we're sleeping in the dark at night. And we knew obviously that um, when you fly across time zones, you have that jet lag, that disruption that occurs these days.
We sort of call it circadian disruption that occurs when you fly across time zones. We just assumed all light was the same. Because light is light. Right. And the big finding that really turned this whole thing upside down, there were several things happened around the year 2000. First of all, there were several major studies coming out, showing that nurses working the night shift had 50 to 60% more breast cancer when they had, when light at night, we saw the right amount of diabetes was coming out.
And we saw also through ill health associated with people working the night shift. Or, you know, at home with the lights on overnight, sleeping, maybe with the lights on, although all those conditions have been really identified as a big effect of light at night. In other words, when light, when it's dark outside is quite harmful.
And the question was, what do we do about it? That's pretty impossible because we all want to be able to do our thing. Do we want to be able to, um, you know, read a book or if. People would do work the night shifts. Nurses have to work the night shift, doctors have to work the night shifts. A lot of people do.
What do we do about that? If we're causing 50, 60% more breast cancer, more prostate cancer, more diabetes. And I, at that time, I was consulting some of the big fortune for a hundred companies and I said, Martin, you know all about the CIC clock. You know all about, you know, what can we do? Well, fortunately there was a key discovery around the same time, and that was, it wasn't white light, it wasn't the full spectrum of white that was causing the problem.
It was actually a rather small band of light in the blue that was causing the issue. So that immediately said to us, okay, there is a solution here. You know, this is interesting because if we could just extract the blue out of light at night and give the blue during the day, we would solve this problem.
And that's in a nutshell what we've done and we set out. And, uh, I never thought about building lights in my life before, you know, hey, I was a doctor or researcher at Harvard and so forth, but there was a need for lights. And so we'd, I learned a lot about, you know, the current lights coming, the market.
Around this time, the LEDs were coming out. Now you remember the old days when we had fluorescent lights and we had the regular incandescent light bulbs, and maybe we had a bit of halogen lights and a few other things out there. All today are banned, by the way, all becoming banned. In favor of L E D lights, and the reason is that l e D lights are highly energy efficient.
Thomas Edison's light bulb, most of the electricity turned into heat, 90% turned into heat, only 10% turned into the light. So in these days, we're all worried about the climate and global warming and everything else. Long comes this technology, which is L e D lights, and those are wonderful in the sense that you can have much, 20 times greater efficiency, 20 times more light for the same water of electricity.
That's a no-brainer, right? Except. There's a little problem, and the little problem is they use blue as part of the key mechanism they pump. The thing that's so efficient at turning electricity into light is a little el, a little chip, a chip that is a blue chip, and so those l e D lights have a spike of blue in them and that spike Spiker blue is just fine during the daytime, but at night.
It's harmful as heck, in other words. Mm-hmm. It is causing cancer. It is causing diabetes. It's causing obesity. When people have the lights on at night and they have a regular L e d light, so we've got this, we've gone this whole, we've transitioned well, back in 2013, only 1% of the lights were l e d. That was a new technology just coming on.
Today it's 80% of our lights, l e d. Most people have l e D lights in the home. I don't for very good reason. All right. Right. These l e D lights, because as I say, during the day, they're fine. If you're in a nine to five office, perfect, no problem. Right? But if you go into the evening, we're incredibly sensitive to very small amounts of blue because that's the signal that our, our eyes are detecting.
And you might say, why are eyes detecting it? Well, it turns out there are special cells in the eye receptors that detect the blue detectors and those, those blue detectors are sensing the mount of blue and light. That's a signal. Our eyes tell our bodies, whether it's day or night, not just on the broad spectral light, but whether there's blue there or not.
So in a sense, if you can build light that is rich and blue, Our eyes and our brains are detecting that as daytime. And if you build lights that have no blue in them, Then those lights are not telling us it's daytime, it's saying it's equiped to dark. Mm-hmm. And so now with that, we can reverse all these medical problems.
So this is the, and so we went out and built LEDs and we've, you know, there are light bulbs in the market. There are fixtures in the market coming out now, and we've done a lot of work with them. So you can actually now address this problem. So these are different types of lights. So the, the classic lights are, are these LEDs rich and blue, causing the problems?
But now we need to really have lights that change from rich and blue during the day to zero blue or have very little blue during the night. That's a long answer to your question, so No, I love that. That's so much goodness there. And I just had a quick question cuz we've had certain experts on the podcast also speaking to concerns about the band of Green Light, the Green Spectrum potentially impacting melatonin production or having still somewhat of an excitatory effect.
Have you found that? Or is it more just really located solely in the blue piece? Well, this is one of the, one of the aha moments because yeah, as we looked at this original studies, I said back in, you know, 2000 on the classic studies identifying this blue. Really, they identify blue, green and violet light as being pretty.
You know, the eye being sensitive too. Okay. Uh, and the circadian clock being sensitive too. And, uh, so we sort of assumed it was a pretty broad range of light. The problem with that, a pretty broad range of colors. And just before we go any further, think about the light spectrum, right? What is this light spectrum we're talking about?
Well, it's all the colors of the rainbow. A rainbow is, you know, the light spectrum. So it starts in via, it goes to blue, moves towards green, moves from green, over to, uh, yellow and orange and red. All those colors are embedded in every light, alright? Or in natural sunlight. For example, natural sunlight's got all these wonderful colors and it fuss together.
We only see our eyes detected as white. So now what we realized is, oh my gosh, if we have to remove to solve this problem, all the violet, all the blue, all the green. We end up with a ghastly yellow orange light. I mean, it really is pretty G pretty bad, right? Yeah. And so we said that's not really a great solution.
And you may have seen on the internet there are these very orangey yellow bulbs and things you can find. Yes. And what they're doing is they take out all the, uh, violet, all the blue, all the green, but the aha moment. Was, oh my gosh. All these studies were done in people who were in the dark. They were all blindfolded for two hours in a perfectly dark room.
They had drops put in their eyes like you glue when you're having a visual exam. The optometrist eyes dilated, and then they got treated with different color lights for a very short period of time, maybe 60 minutes or 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes short. Really short amounts of time. In the real world, we see white polychromatic light.
We are light adapted. So those people, what we call dark adapted, in other words, it's like night vision, right? In other words, if you want to go around in the astronomers, if they wanna see, the stars will sit in perfect darkness for a couple of hours, so their eyes will come totally adjusted to the darkness, and it's only the rods.
In our eyes that are seeing light, and then we're very good at walking around a moonlight and we're, you know, all the rest of it. And starlight even. We're pretty good there because we're, we're designed for it. But when you go into daylight, we light adapt. So what's happening in the regular world when we're going around, we're fully light, adapt, we're adapted to normal full light.
So we said, well, what's this really like in somebody who's light adapted like we all are virtually all the time. And we found a different story. We found the violet had no effect. We found the green had no effect. The only thing was blue. Mm-hmm. And really centered on this, there's a chemical in this called melanopsin.
Mm-hmm. Which is a photo pigment that sits in the, in these cells in the eye. I P R GCs is the, you know, acronym for them. Uh, they're little, some, you know, and intrinsically photosensitive retinal gang cells is a technical term, but they're the blue detectors and they're ultimately blue detectors. And so it really is, comes down.
Now the story is you've gotta control the blue and the green is not an issue. And now there's still some, you know, debating back and forth in science in the scientific details, but it's pretty clear. In that dark adapted abnormal state, which people did, cuz there's a way of doing very precise lab experiments.
You know, everything's controlled if you start from a darkness, but if you go into the real world, people going around and regular doing their regular thing, normally in normal white light, normally they're moving, they're active and they're in light for how long are you up before you go to sleep? 16 hours, right?
So yeah, in that state it is blue. And blue is the thing you need to contain. And it's a particular type of blue that's close to this. What's 480 nanometers? Mm-hmm. So again, going back to that spectrum, visible light. Yeah. We cut lots of things we can't see, we can't see uv, we can't see infrared, we can't see a radio waves, we can't see lots of things.
We see a little narrow band of what comes out of the sun. So we see this. Violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, and that goes from three 80 to seven 80. Nanometers is a metric, a measurement of it. We've got a little patch around 4 880 in, which is right in the center of the blue. That's the magic formula, and it's around that, that we need to control.
So we need to take all four 80 blue and some of course, a wider band around it out during the night, and we need to deliver it during the day. And then we actually do get to solve this problem of the harmful effect of light at night. Wow. Okay. So out of that then, in your research, what you're finding is contrary to, you know, some of the people listening might identify as like these, you know, sleep biohackers or all these things, right?
And so they might have red light bulbs, they might have Himalayan salt lamps. Candles, all of those things. Yeah. That's all well and good, but what you're saying, and this is exciting from a more just even aesthetics perspective, that we can get the same results from what you're finding from a more traditional looking environment.
So cuz my understanding is even the light behind you is conducive to what we're talking about. That won't impact our sleep in the same way, but, Still be able to like not look like a total weirdo, which is what some of the, the red lights can do, right? Is that, yeah. Well and the short answer is the red light does its trick because it's got no blue in it.
Right. It's got no blue in, it's fine. That's perfectly fine. Candles, interestingly have virtually no blue in it. Yeah. Fire. Think about, we've been wandering around this planet for million plus years, human species, right? And what do we have for the, you know, right up to a hundred years ago, it was all candlelight and it was all camp fires, right?
Wood fires, neither a wood fire nor a candle has any blue in it, or virtually blue. So you never had this problem until Thomas Edison came along. Yes. Now, Thomas Edison didn't do such a bad job because, The light bulbs he created actually have relatively low blue, about 4% blue. Sure. But now these LEDs we've been talking about have 15%, 20%, 25% blue.
They are blasting us with this blue, which is, as I say, finder in the day, but extremely harmful at night. So we've actually got announced to go around and start replacing all these things, and it's like changing of course, of a battleship, you know? In other words, the whole thing, you know, the whole story about the ship moving along and trying to turn it around, an aircraft carrier or whatever it is.
It takes some time because all the energy, all the policy about the Department of Energy, about energy saving, all the messaging has been go l e d, save electricity, save our planet, right? But we are hurting out. So the irony is, Yes, we're saving the health of the planet, but we're hurting our own health if we do it with the classic conventional l e d.
But we don't have to give up the energy efficiency cuz we can now build LED special LEDs rich in blue or missing blue, depending on day or night. We can build them to almost the same energy efficiency so we can actually solve the energy efficiency problem. But right now it's like generation one technology and we're saying, whoops.
Yeah. Basically, yes. And to underscore too, just that there's this whole world behind that in agreement with what you're speaking to, just to underscore, and it was 248, right? The leading circadian scientists that reached this consensus that it's really time that we change the lights that we're using and to even put warning labels on the current light bulbs.
Is that all accurate? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, we did this because I'm out there talking about this and everything else and people are saying, well, it's just your viewpoint of the world. I said, no, a scientists know this. And so while we do it, we went out to, did a survey. All the scientists that had published lots of papers in this field, anybody published more than four academic research papers in this field.
We contacted 248 of them responded. And got a clear consensus. I mean this clear agreement, circadian rhythms are critical to health. Light at night increase the risk of breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, fully proven. It's the blue that's the problem. It's around. The peak blue effect is a range between around four 80, but the, the peak, the sensitivity of the receptors are about four 80.
Everyone agrees that you need to control the range of four 60 to 4 95. In other words, the range of blues around this. This blue, you need a fix and it's time now to really tell the world you've gotta change your lights and you've got to actually recognize that we need to put warning labels. That was actually one of the agreements.
We need to put warning labels on the standard L E D lights that they may be harmful. FUD at night. And that was, you know, to get, um, a, a consensus out of 248 scientists or leading scientists love to argue and squabble about all the scientific detail. When you get a consensus, you'll getting to the point where the science is so well established.
Let's move on to other interesting things, right? Um, new science, but the core science is there. And it's ready for application. And as I say, that's the exciting thing. We're at that pivotal point. But the problem is scientists all agree and talk to each other, but does the world know what the scientists saying?
You know, somebody said, you know, scientists know all about it. They talk to each other, but they don't never talk to their neighbor about it. Over the backyard fence. Right? Ugh. Well, yeah, that's what we're doing here, Mollie, with your, with your show, which I'm glad to be able to do. I'm so grateful. It's so clear the difference that this can make in our sleep, in our health, in our life.
So you're taking the time to share about this is huge. Huge, huge. Now. I know that you have a very cool gadget that can even further demonstrate the light that you have that can serve as a type of light that we might all be able to utilize in the evenings and kind of what's different about that. So maybe that can help demonstrate what we're talking about.
So this gadget, it's called a spectrophotometer, and what it does is it enables you to quickly take a snapshot of any light. It's a just about the size of my iPhone, right? So it's, you know, a little small on my iPhone, actually. Handheld. And what I can do is literally look at any. Any light and take a snapshot of it.
So on that screen I can see it. There's nothing I don't, can you see that right? Yep. There's nothing on it now. Now I've got an l e d light just for display, and as I say, I don't use l e d lights on my house, um, for the, for, uh, this purpose. But I'm gonna take a snapshot of one and here now I've just taken a quick snapshot of that and I think you can see it's huge spike of blue.
Yes. That's what's G Now, during the day, that's great. During the night, that is devastatingly harmful, right? Mm-hmm. And that's the problem. Absolutely. So it's possible. Now we have built light bulbs that take that away. So I've got happened to one back here, right? And this is a, you can see a desk lamp here, and I just point directly at the bulb.
And if I point at this bulb here, now I can come by and I think you can see the blue is gone. In other words, there's a hole there in the spectrum. So now you can see Violet on one end, right? Virtue of blue. And then you see the greens and all the other colors as well, uh, yellows and reds. Mm-hmm. And that's just tells you that that's, uh, that's called a zero blue bulb, as an example.
But it's a way that we can quickly assess, you know, what is the lighting? Is this good lighting, bad lighting? Is it appropriate for the time of day? So yeah, that's what we're doing. Hmm, amazing. And have you found in your research that this still need to be looked at to have any conclusive results, but have you found that some people are innately more sensitive to this blue light than other people?
Uh, or just across the board? We know as human beings we're sensitive and diurnal creatures, and so we need to be aware of this. But are there some people that are even more at risk that you've found, or is it hard to say? Oh, absolutely there are. And some beautiful studies done by Sean Kane in and Australia, Monash University and his colleagues where they looked, they put little monitors on people, the equivalent of one of these devices that are small and you can just put on the color and continuously measure people.
And they looked at what happens over the course of as you go into the evening hours and they showed that some people are much more sensitive than others. So one of the interesting findings in this area is, That some people are late night owls and some people are morning types, right? I have to be an early morning type.
I get up, you know, five in the morning. Yeah, my wife is not that way, but.
And other people, you know, just fight very hard to wake up and, um, but I, you know, really are energetic and wanna move into one o'clock in the morning or wherever, you know, before they get to bed. That is a fundamental difference in people, but that is actually exaggerated by this response to light. So it turns out those people who are L types are very, very sensitive.
Yes. To light. That light now is shifting their clocks, really delaying their clocks, putting them in in a different time zone, as it were. In other words, it's equivalent of living in Boston and having your clocks shifted to California. Yes. As a result of light. People like me, morning types much less sensitive to that.
We don't respond quite so much. Mm-hmm. And so as a result, our clocks don't shift. Quite so much. And so that's part of the issue. So there are genetic differences between people and their sensitivity, but the amount of light it takes. Is really at very sensitive levels. Give you an idea. The best test is reading speed, right?
In other words, when someone, if you're looking at a paper and you've got something like new, know what times or whatever you choose to read, and you look at it at a newspaper, if the light levels are too low, it's very hard to read. Well, to get to safe light levels with a regular L a D, you've gotta put it so you can't read the newspaper.
You have to make it so dim. To get the, you know, reduce the blue cuz there are two ways of changing blue, right? Mm-hmm. Change the spectrum here, right? Or just turn down the lights because every part of the spectrum is less when there's less light, but you come to turn it so dim, you can't even read in order to solve this problem.
Well, that's not very practical. Everyone wants to be able to see and do their thing and enjoy reading the book or whatever else you want to do in the evening. Same thing for computer screens. By the way, the computer screens are producing a lot of blue lights. So, and now there are computer screens coming on, which take that have the same spectrum I showed you blue free at night.
Yes. And you know, full of blue during the daytime. And those types of things make a real difference in terms of. How much people sleep, how, what is the delay before they can fall asleep, how well they feel after they've slept. You know, as well as things like the internal hormone melatonin, which is one of the markers that we use, but it's many, many hormones in the body are affected not just melatonin, but melatonin.
It happens to be very convenient when we use as a, as a marker for what's going on. Okay, so for the, the lights that we're now at, I think you put it as like virgin one, or, you know, we're at the beginning of starting to get this out to the masses. So the lighting that you're focusing on, on, if I'm understanding this correctly, is in the evening, are you also looking at light for the day that does the opposite to get that high amplitude?
Absolutely. Yeah. Because in fact the l e D lights that I told you, all the problems with the blue, they don't have enough blue during the daytime. They're a poor compromise. So you basically, and most of us think about, in the old days, uh, people were out about outside so much more. In modern society. I mean, people were just exposed to daylight that most, you know, they got out.
Whereas, and there were many more people worked outside. 90% of people worked in agriculture back, you know, before Edison came along. So, We now are 90% of the time living indoors. And of course it's not just Covid. We're doing this anyway, right? And so people are indoors, and if you're indoors with L e D lights, it is not enough blue there to really benefit your sleep.
So you need to amp up the blue content. And so, yes, good question. We had to develop like bob's that boost that blue up to levels, and we figured out what the levels were to keep the clock in sync, keep us fully healthy during the day, and. It's just the same as we had to figure out how much blue we had to take out at night and so many people wanna know kind of what you said about, so you're, you land a bit more of a drifting towards earlier hours, so you wake up and oftentimes it might be dark out, I'm assuming.
So people say, well, I do that and I wake up and it's dark. Am I supposed to then get full bright light exposure or should I physically just wait until I go outside? Do you have any kind of guidance for those questions? Well, Yeah. First of all, best possible advice, I do it myself, is get out in the mornings, get a walk, get a jog, run, whatever, get exposed to full spectrum, because the brightness outside is so much greater.
In other words, regular sunlight, 50,000 Lux Plus as compared to even a bright room inside is 500. In other words, you, you, you've got, you've got a vast change in the amount of light a hundred, uh, a thousand fold increase in light outside. So that's very good for your health. That's where a dose, true daylight outside is extremely healthy.
So yes, that's a first tip. Doing it with electric, one things, things about lighting is our eye's not very good at telling how bright it is comparatively. But, you know, if you, if I took this, this device will also tell, you know, how much. A light that's coming out. If I go outside, I'll have a hundred times more light than I have inside now.
Right now, yes. Even though I'm sitting in a well lit room. So true. Okay, so with that, actually that might be a good opportunity for us to transition into how you are managing your sleep and your light environment and see what we can learn too from you. This is actually really interesting. People always wanna know.
For someone that's this well versed like yourself in this area, they wanna know, okay, so let's like walk through your life so we can learn, how can we apply this in our lives? So our first question that we always ask is, what is your nightly sleep routine looking like? And so we can hope, I'm assuming we might see the lights that you got going on back there, but what else might we see?
Walk us through all that. Well, certainly the bedroom is lit with just the zero blue lights. There's no blue light whatsoever in my bedroom. Right? So that's, that's the first step, right? Great. Okay. All the other parts of good sleep behavior are there. You have to follow. And of course, I've been, you know, in this sleep business for a long time, keeping to a regular schedule really helps a lot.
Have a regular pattern, have a pattern where you are winding down before you try to go to sleep. In other words, uh, so you. Through relaxing activities. I unplugged my cell phone, or at least I plug it in and put it down in the kitchen. It's not in the bedroom. I'm not doing media or emails. Yes. Just before sleeping right, I, in fact, I don't want it waking me up.
I don't wanna have messages or buzzing going on while I'm trying to go to bed or while I'm trying to fall asleep. So that is not in the bedroom. So leaving your cell phones in a different room, charging is good. Practice in a perfectly dark room. Is key. So how do we get to a perfectly dark room? Well, you know, the problem is if you go out to the store and buy a clock, you know, or, uh, you know, whatever.
In the bedroom too often they are relatively, you know, people have blue ones, they have white ones. Those are emitting blue lights. So my clock, bedroom clock is red. Right, it's a red, red screen. So again, no light there in the bathroom. You wanna be careful in the middle of the night you get up, go to the bathroom and do a trip over things.
So I use a little light, very low level light. It's uh, uh, that just plugs in into the socket, but it basically just a very low level light, but it's just pure yellow, orange light. There's no blue in it at all, but enables you to walk. You're not tripping over yourself. Cause again, you don't wanna fall in the middle of the night in the pitch dark.
So those are all part of it, you know, and then all the other things. Uh, getting up in the morning, uh, going, exercising, you know, taking a vigorous walk, uh, climbing outside, going outside of those sort of things are important. And, um, maintaining a eating well and not too much and on a regular pattern, all those things are part of getting into a regular pattern of sleep.
So, yeah, no, I'm a very regular sleeper and I know what my own pattern is. You know, I know that, yes. I, uh, am not someone I wake up at five o'clock in the morning, tend to go to bed around 10, 10 30 range, and I might take a nap in the afternoon if I'm sleepy. That's okay. Yes. It's really wonderful these days with, you know, we're so much more virtual that we can organize.
Day appropriately. Yes. As opposed to the old day when, when you to commute into an office and be in office stuck for fixed hours and then commute out again. There's, uh, freedom there. And I think one of the best advice I can say is create your own time zone. Right? In other words, we're all hassling over this whole problem of daylight savings time.
Should we have it, should we have not daylight savings time? The, the laws being passed in Congress about that. And the problem is, That being driven by a schedule that's not healthy gets you up too early for your own body, is actually associated with ill health. I mean, I think one of the things people don't realize is if you look at people across a time zone, you know here in Boston we're at the east end of a time zone and you can go out to Cleveland, Ohio, and various places out west, and he is still in Eastern time zone.
Well, it so happens the sun is moving across the sky, as it were, and moving across the map of the US about 700 miles an hour, and the time zones are about seven to 900 miles wide. So basically that says if you are in somewhere like Cleveland or in somewhere like that, you are actually getting dawn an hour later, but you're on the same time zone.
Mm. So you say, well, look at the kids going to school. I'm raising lots of issues for you here, but go this all right. Yeah, no, appreciate it. So, you know, so one of the crazy things I looked at recently is in Boston public schools start at eight 30. You go out to Cleveland, they start at seven. Now that's got entirely the wrong way round, right?
Yes. You'd think in Cleveland they should be starting an hour later than Boston, cuz sunrise doesn't occur. So the kids are going to bet at the time, you know, whereas they've, they've had an hour and a half of light and then they go to school in Boston. The public schools in Cleveland, and the same again with Detroit.
Similar thing. You just, you know, the, the, the, um, it's arriving an hour later and yet they're going to school an hour and a half later than the earlier. Mm-hmm. So it's all those things. So schools hard to fix, but clearly that needs dealing with them. That's a whole nother topic. Sure. But in terms of our own individual lives, We've got the freedom now to work from anywhere.
That's a great thing, right? We can go and do you, I, I dunno where you are. I can't tell. You could be anywhere. And you could be doing this from Hawaii or from Paris as far as I know, right? Yes, exactly. Um, good for you. Right? And, and, um, so what, what you choose to look at as you go outside your door is gonna change, right?
Yeah, but you can choose your time zone. So when I'm in the UK, I tend to maintain closer to the Boston time zone because I, I minimize the change. I don't need to change five hours, I don't need to be subjected to five hours of jet lag. Mm. So again, that's part of. And then the whole secrets about travel, that you know, what time of day do you travel so it doesn't disrupt your sleep and all those things.
A lot of questions, but basically having a view of controlling your time zone, which means controlling your relationship to light because we now know. Where the ideal relationship of your sleep to, to light dark cycle is. We know fascinating studies done by Kenneth Wright in Colorado. Mm-hmm. Taking people back, the best, packing out, and I dunno if you know those studies.
Oh, I love those. They're so, they make the argument so viscerally, like just so well, and they're sleeping one, they're going outside without electricity. With no technology with them, they're allowed to have fires like the ancestors did, and their sleep gets so much better. And, and the difference between morning types and evening types is greatly reduced.
And so it's like looking at how our ancestors were in a, in a wonderful, wonderful throwback. Only it turns out to be a camping trip in the Colorado, uh, wilderness of Colorado. Great study that, but basically, Uh, getting, understanding what our natural pattern is because if we look at people at the west end of a time zone, they're less, much less healthy than their neighbors 20 miles away on the east end of the next time zone.
Right. So get that. So if you compare all the look at the thing, you know we've got these time zones going down across the US and you look at all the counties on the east side of the time zone who are already running really way this, the sunrise really late. And then compare similar counties, similar populations, rural just as rural or urban as as the other.
And the health is far worse. The people who are forced to get up early. And naturally early because of the time zone. They're following an artificial rule. So they say forget, you know what time. Get your own time zone. I know. Love it. Get your own time zone. Yes. I love it. Uh, we're gonna, I feel like we have to have you back for a part two because, um, One of the things that we're often talking about is because I'm glad we haven't done any content really going more in depth like you just did on the time zones and where that falls.
We've spoken about latitude and where you, from a health geography perspective, where you choose to live and how that could impact your sleep results from a sleep wake cycle. But we haven't done as much as what you just. Talked about. So fascinating. So interesting. And I just wanna real quick say you have a book coming out right that can help us?
I do guide, yeah. Will you be talking about all this in there to, to go through? Yes. Absolutely. No, I mean it clearly, this is part of the message is how do we get this message out now? So I've written the book for the, you know, general public, which explains, it's called The Light Doctor. Yeah. And it's saying, look, don't let your electrician be your doctor.
Don't let your hardware or guy be your doctor in choosing lights. Right. Yeah. You actually need to know water lights that are healthy. That's the book that I'm, uh, great. Will have coming out. Okay. Amazing. All right, so, we'll, we'll, I wanna hear more about that too. So, and just as far as your personal lifestyle, so we understand your, your bedtime and like, so what your night ritual looks like.
Then we also, we added in. For a long time we only had three questions, and then we added in this one, which is what is your morning sleep routine look like? And we say that, uh, on purpose with the idea that how your mornings look and in your day, how that can impact your sleep results. So just curious, any callouts that you might have from when you first wake up that we should know about.
Yeah, I know. I think the main, main thing is having a regular schedule. So I've, yes, been always get up around five o'clock in the morning and my body's pretty much accustomed to that. So I have a routine drink, a cup of coffee, never too much coffee. Coffee, some coffee in the morning is, is great. Gets you going good for your health.
Excess coffee, like everything in excess is a problem and you certainly don't wanna do it too close to bedtime, but no, in the morning. And then, as I say, get outside in the light. Get exposed to light, good, healthy light, and get into the regular pattern and eat a good breakfast, and all those good things.
So those are part of a healthy routine. So it's the regular thing that matters. I think people, most problems are those who may be forced to work. I mean, the, the, so many people are required to work irregular shifts or on call or uh, so forth. Not much they can do without it. But the problem is if people don't follow these patterns, We now know that people who leave the lights on at night, usually because they're anxious or something like that, that's what they present to do.
They have twice the rates of diabetes, twice the rates of obesity. Mm-hmm. Twice the rates of heart disease. Then people who switch the lights and sleep in the dark, switch off the lights and sleep in the dark, something so essential. And yet almost 50% of the population of the, uh, particularly an older age population, mid-age and older.
Over 50% sleep in the light. That's crazy. You know? Mm-hmm. But it's reality. And so that's part of the education. We're so accustomed the flick of a light switch, the convenience of light, it's comforting to be able to, you know, see where you are and all the rest of it, or, or you just fall asleep with the lights on.
All that is so important to your health to manage and not do so really good. Yeah. Okay. That's critical. So then with that, our third question is, what might we see on your nightstand, or even if you're traveling, kind of proverbial nightstand, you know, apps, ambiance, what have you. And I'm also curious too, just made me think of it, your stance on blue blockers, and if you feel like there's any validity to that, or if you have.
Concerns, questions or anything to share on that topic? So what you might see in your nightstand, and would we see blue blockers on there? Well, you might see a couple of books on my, you know, on my nightstand. So sometimes some quiet reading before bed is, Nice to have. You would, um, and as I say, a clock with a red face to it as opposed to a Yes white or blue face.
And yeah. Let's talk about the glasses. Blue blocking glasses. You know, it's really, this is where the science gets a little wonky, or at least the claims get separated from the science, right? Sure. Here's the issue. People talk about blue light being bad. Well, It's not bad. It's the time of day. You see it.
Yes. But it also matters which blue. Right. And there is such a lot of misinformation about There is. It is true that certain types of blue light can damage the eyes if they're extremely bright. And I mean, if you are out in broad sunlight in the Australian desert or wherever else, you know, you are out somewhere in the beach of Florida, wherever you are, and you've got really Ted sunlight that can be harmful with your eyes.
And the blue part of it is actually damages the eye. But as we talked about earlier, that how bright it is on the beach, it could be a hundred thousand lux, a measure of light. Indoors, we rarely get above 500 bucks and more often we're in 200, 300 bucks. It is so infinitesimally less, there is no risk whatsoever.
And so there are people running around, you know, making this blue light is, you know, anti blue and all the rest of it. It's a bunch of nonsense. Yeah, indoors. Outdoors is valid, but indoors it's not. Now there is an an issue about blue, as we talked about as you get into the evening, and so if you look at many of these blue blockers, they don't actually block that 418 nanometer blue that we said is critical.
Mm-hmm. They block some other blue. Right way down, a different blue. Now there are some that are, are genuinely taking out the right blue and uh, there's a web website called Blue Safe 24, for example, which has got these lights in it that are really taking out the circadian relevant blue, uh, for evening use.
So those, that type of thing is certainly possible to do. But you know, there's a lot of loose claims and, and the same way there's a lot of loose claims around circadian lighting, but one of the Sure talks I give is true and false circadian lighting. How do you tell the difference? Because they're just not wild claims.
People think you change the color, you're solving this problem, you're not people, you know. So there are lots of wild claims out there. So the critical thing is the science is around using this device. And knowing exactly which blue you're removing or not removing and which blue you're providing during the day and removing at night.
That's the critical. Make sure you've actually got something that generally is a circadian night. So important. Yeah. And there's a lot of, um, new, uh, Companies and products and all these things coming out and an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that so many people are struggling with their sleep and tired and desperate and just one support.
So I appreciate you kind of guiding us through making sense of that. And then the last question would be, what would you say for you in your life has made the biggest change in managing your sleep? Or put another way, the biggest aha moment you've had in managing your sleep. Well, I think it is understanding how critical it is to control the blue content of light, I mean, really comes down to it.
In other words, that's really a fundamental thing. I mean, the big haha moment was you all our research, it did, as I mentioned, we identified this clock in the brain and how it was controlled by light didn't even occur to us. That it was blue light. We just thought it was a light white light. Right? Sure.
And so when we figured out that it was blue and then figured out more precisely exactly which blue, that is just huge because it's sort of. Really amazing. And I'll just tell you something just that is mind boggling. It's certainly mindboggling to me. Yeah. If you go and look at where life began deep in the oceans, you could say, well, okay, what light do they see?
Well, the thing about seawater is absorbs all the colors of the rainbow. Mm. And by the time you get into deep water, there's only blue down there. And it's only this blue, the 480 nanometer blue that is the blue that gets on our eyes. And so all the organisms in the sea, the fish and everything else, as well as animals, birds, us, everybody else are seeing this signal that was first seen millions of years ago when life began, and that signal was blue.
So when life emerged in the ocean, start in the oceans. Day was blue because they couldn't see any other color. Mm. And so those receptors that detected this blue are eons old. They're ancient, and they're ancient through and and preserved through all lifespan. And so as we came up out of the water and our ancestors or remote ancestors did right, and as we, you know, evolved over time, we've kept that key signal.
Not day is blue. And night is no blue, and that was a signal that was right from the beginning of life when life began. Wow, that's, it tells it so beautifully. I'm in the midst of, uh, Russell Foster's book at the moment and he kind of speaks to some of that. But I just love how you distilled it so nicely.
It's kind of that either or. It's the blue or no blue. So well said. And actually just real quick, uh, question cuz I've heard multiple people have different thoughts on this. I don't know why it made me think of it, but. So many people will speak to concerns of just that bright shot of blue light throughout the course of your night, being enough to deplete melatonin production and be excitatory in a very quick and a quick manner.
So meaning like I'll have people that get very concerned about these things, right? So they'll open up their refrigerator door and they get all this bright light, and now they're like, oh no, is my sleep ruined? Is the melatonin totally depleted? Do you have any thoughts, any weigh in on that? For people that are nervous.
Yeah. There are transient effects. In other words, short term effects, which, which really are irrelevant. A little dip in your melatonin cuz you're open up the refrigerator, got a dose of light, really irrelevant, really irrelevant point. Our system is looking at the big changes. Yes. And so if the little variations, if, I mean, if you think about it, you know, meteor shower in the middle of the night could create a burst of light or whatever, right?
Yes. It didn't stop evolution, right? Yeah. It didn't stop us going. So we're very robust about minor changes. Okay. It's continuous light for any period of time. That's the problem that sends us, shift us around and we are sensitive a little bit, but basically the system is pretty robust. We're designed to be able to predict in our brains when it's going to be.
Safe to go out. You know, in the old days it used to be pretty unsafe for humans to be wandering around with the saver tooth, tigers and all those monsters out there in the jungle, right in the middle of the night. Cuz we have very poor sense of vision compared to most night active animals, more likely to be preed than predator at that time.
So humans devolved sleep than they slept at night getting outta trouble. So it's a fundamental thing, but we predict very good at predicting when dawn is occurring. We're also very good and our brains are predicting when it's gonna be night. Give us time to get back to somewhere safe, not get caught out.
And um, you know, before the sun sets. So it's, you know, it's, it's in our genes. It's really fundamental and it's just amazing that, you know, modern technology can get really clever and then we say, oh, whoops. You know, it's like artificial intelligence, right? Yes. We've got really clever and artificial intelligence.
I think there's gonna be a big whoops coming somewhere down the road.
Oh my gosh. Well, so to avoid. The whoops for, for people listening. Um, and to have some more guidance from you. Underscoring again, the fact that you have this book coming. So I just wanted to check in. So cuz I know that people listening and now are gonna be fascinated by your research, the work that you do, helping to kind of decode what's real, what's not, what do we need to get ourselves worried about?
What do, what are the fundamental changes and how do we actually bring this into our lifestyle? Cause it seems like it could be, Simple on the surface, it's like, oh, okay. So bright lights by day, you know, dim by and dimmed to total darkness by night. But the practical application, there's a lot of things that come up and with travel and jet lag and.
All of it. So I know people are gonna wanna follow what you're up to. So what are the best ways for people to do that and make sure that they get that book when it is released? Right. Well, I got a website, the light doctor.com. Love that name. Okay. So good. And, um, there, I'm, I post up, um, both the latest research, um, also, you know, there's a basic education about it.
I've got, um, podcasts in there and, um, you know, and various videos, teaching videos and all the like, so there's a lot of information there. And obviously that will, uh, announce the book when it's ready. Amazing. Oh, well, that's so exciting. So needed. I feel like this is one of the most untapped areas of health and wellbeing that you're just.
So transformative and don't have to cost really anything or very low investment to make these changes. And so I just, I'm so excited for us to continue to get this word out. The work that you're doing, bringing all, uh, as many researchers and scientists on board, getting the message out to the masses is a big, big deal.
So thank you so much and thank you for taking the time to be here. Well, thank you Mollie.. It's been a great, uh, session with you. Oh, absolutely. Thank you so much. You've been listening to The Sleep Is A Skill Podcast, the number one podcast for people who wanna take their sleep skills to the next level.
Every Monday, I send out something that I call Mollie's Monday Obsessions containing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of sleep. Head on over to sleep as a skill.com to sign up.