LED Lights and Sleep: The Effect of Artificial Lighting on Your Sleep Patterns

With LED streetlights becoming more and more common, Americans are beginning to wonder if this bright lighting could cause harm to people’s sleep patterns. After all, LED lights give off up to 85% more light than traditional halogen bulbs but only use about 15% of the energy. Being so bright, could LEDs actually lead to more sleep issues?

Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy published a report that covered this issue. In it, they described what LED lights are and how they fall onto the visible light spectrum. They also addressed potential health concerns regarding the use of LED lights instead of traditional halogen or fluorescent lighting.

While they found no drastic health concerns, they did notice the effect LED lights can have on sleep.

LED lights tend to lean towards the blue light end of the spectrum. While they can be adjusted to emit any light that exists on the visible light spectrum, traditionally LED lights are seen as blue. Blue light is good at emulating what our body recognizes as midday, typically the time that we are most productive. This can be beneficial for a work environment; however, it has the potential to disrupt sleep patterns as it throws off the body’s natural circadian rhythms. The light tells our bodies that it’s midday and thus, keeps us awake. When we are trying to sleep, this could be a problem.

This is the same reason people who use their electronic devices like computers or phones can sometimes struggle to sleep at night. The light tells the body it’s a different time of day than it actually is. When a person is subjected to natural light, the brain can easily set an appropriate sleeping pattern. With artificial lights, this isn’t the case.

Luckily, there exists an easy solution to this. LED lights are highly adaptable. They can be tuned and dimmed to produce less light. LED lights, like any light, are fine in moderation. However, overuse of them at night can create sleeping problems for anyone.