The wavelength paradox (blue)

What is blue light therapy?

In an era where screens illuminate our lives, the paradox of blue light unfolds. On one hand, research suggests that artificial blue light exposure can cause retinal damage and negatively impact sleep patterns. On the other, blue light is being used for therapeutic purposes, as a treatment for depression, skin conditions, and even cancer. It’s a curious irony that the very wavelength we caution against holds the potential for positive benefits. Here’s a look at the duality of blue light, exploring its perceived harms from screens and the promising therapeutic applications of blue light therapy that are rewriting the narrative surrounding it.

What is artificial blue light exposure? (the bad)

what is blue light therapy
What is blue light therapy? / Mad Max: Fury Road

Artificial blue light exposure refers to the light emitted by electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. This high-energy, short-wavelength light mimics the natural blue light present in sunlight but is intensified in artificial settings. Prolonged exposure, especially during evenings, raises concerns about its impact on eye health and sleep patterns.

Retinal challenges

Research signals a concern that prolonged exposure to artificial blue light, notably from screens, may pose risks to our retinas. This raises questions about potential damage to the delicate structures of our eyes over time.

Eye strain

The constant interaction with screens, emitting blue light, has given rise to digital eye strain. Symptoms such as eye discomfort, dryness, and fatigue underscore the toll that extended screen time can take on our visual well-being.

Sleep disruption

The paradox of blue light extends to our sleep patterns. Studies suggest that exposure to blue light, particularly during the evening, can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone vital for a restful night’s sleep. The artificial glow from screens, often viewed before bedtime, may inadvertently disrupt our natural sleep-wake cycle.

Circadian rhythm imbalance

Beyond sleep disruptions, the pervasive glow of blue light from devices can upset our circadian rhythm. This, in turn, may lead to a cascade of effects on our overall health, mood, and daily alertness.

What is blue light therapy? (the good)

What is blue light therapy? / Aladdin (1992)

Blue light therapy involves deliberate exposure to specific wavelengths of blue light for therapeutic benefits. Whether combating depression, enhancing skin health, or regulating circadian rhythms, this non-invasive approach harnesses the power of light to address diverse health concerns.

Mood enhancement

Blue light therapy serves as a therapeutic beacon, with its ability to elevate mood and combat conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Exposure to this wavelength is linked to improved emotional well-being and enhanced cognitive performance.

Skin rejuvenation

Harnessing the power of specific blue wavelengths, this therapy promotes collagen production, reducing wrinkles and fine lines. It’s a non-invasive approach to skincare, offering a radiant boost without surgical interventions.

Acne management

Low-intensity blue light penetrates the skin, targeting acne-causing bacteria without harming surrounding tissues. This non-invasive solution offers a promising avenue for managing acne, showcasing the therapeutic versatility of blue light.

Regulation of circadian rhythms

When applied strategically, blue light therapy aids in regulating circadian rhythms, helping to synchronize our internal clocks. This can contribute to improved sleep quality, alertness, and overall circadian balance.

A clarification

“How can blue light be responsible for both the disruption and regulation of circadian rhythms?”

– Everyone who’s made it this far

Blue light’s dual role depends on both timing and intensity. Prolonged exposure to artificial blue light, especially in the evening from screens, can disrupt circadian rhythms by suppressing melatonin production, leading to sleep disturbances.

Conversely, when strategically applied, as in blue light therapy during the day, it can regulate circadian rhythms by improving alertness and aiding in synchronizing our internal clocks. The key lies in the timing and controlled use of blue light, transforming it from a potential disruptor to a tool for circadian balance.

With the question ‘what is blue light therapy’ answered, let’s move on to our top product recommendations to turn your home into a sanctuary for blue light therapy. 

Best blue light therapy lamps

Unfortunately, the choice of blue light therapy lamps on the market is incredibly limited today. As such, your best bet is to buy a blue light therapy bulb and pick out a lamp separately. This can help ensure that you can get your fix of blue light therapy without ruining your home decor.

The following blue light therapy lamp from Hooga costs US$55 and features a standard socket, enabling compatibility with most lamps which you’d find in homeware stores. 

Find a few of our favourite IKEA lamps below, which allow custom bulbs to be used. 





If blue isn’t really your colour, have a look at our recommendations on red light therapy instead.