How artificial light is destroying your children’s health

When you were born, you came into this world naked. No clothes, no sunscreen, no sunglasses. Your body is inherently designed to be exposed to the natural and full spectrum of sunlight. That is why we have light receptors in our skin and in our eyes that capture light and create powerful physiological changes in our body. [1]

 

Past generations of kids have enjoyed the benefits of sun exposure and being connected to the earth by playing outside for multiple hours during the day. If you were born before the 1990’s, you can probably relate to this. 

 

Remember the glory of being able to play outside and enjoy mother nature?


There is nothing more nurturing to a kid’s mind and creativity more than being able to freely explore the natural environment, observe the different colors and shapes of nature, listen to the balanced rhythms of vibrating brooks and streams, the pounding of the waves upon the shore, the tweeting of birds and chirping of insects, the whispering of the wind through the trees.


Do you recall the fun of playing in the mud, making mud pies,adding coloured fairy stones, flowers, leaves and sticks?


Every kid is born a genius and an artist at heart. Unfortunately, our current way of living is stultifying the genius in every kid, forcing them to sit in a box, under unbalanced artificial lighting, and conditioning them to memorize and repeat, rather than think, play, explore and create.


This new generation is now spending most of their time indoors, partly due to the fear around sun exposure and also because of technology, which transformed our lives into an indoor existence.


But can’t you see how destructive this is to our kids?


I can guarantee you that forcing our kids to be indoors, under artificial lighting that is unbalanced and distorted is dumbing down the genius in them. 


How do I know?


I have been there. As a kid, I suffered from headaches, agitation and inability to focus in the classroom.


I used to ‘’misbehave’’ because that was my only strategy to be kicked out of the classroom.


I felt exalted to be outdoors, exploring and listening to nature’s silent rhythms while feeling nourished by the full spectrum of sunlight.


After some time, my teachers picked up on my strategy, and I got diagnosed with the label ‘’ADHD’’and was forced back into the classroom. That felt extremely torturing.


It literally stratified my genius for so many years. I had to suppress my inner light and intuition which always guided me away from the artificial lighting in the classroom into the glorious light of nature.


The results were tragic: 20 years of depression, chronic fatigue, and disorientation which finally led me to hit a bottom in my life, where I entered a very dark place of the soul.


I lost my Job as an engineer and I found myself in my chamber, completely paralyzed, with zero desire to live or move.


At this stage, I went so deep down, that my only choice was to spring back up.


I remember that night very well…


I looked into myself, squarely in the eyes, and made a commitment to myself to change the way I was living.


I left everything behind, and I embarked on an unknown journey to find my way and reverse the suffering


Miraculously, one specific event in my life transformed me on every level


I spent 6 weeks on a rural farm in Quebec, where I was exposed to natural light during the day, and fire and candle light during the evening.


Within a matter of 3 days, I  was able to restore perfect sleep, energy and vitality that I have never felt before.


I felt renewed and transformed on every level. My spirit was flying and I felt very connected to the exalting times I felt as a kid.


After many experiences of camping in the wilderness and volunteering on rural farms in northern Canada, I started realizing that all of us in this modern world are living a lifestyle that is completely disconnected from nature’s rhythm.


As a result, we are thrown off rhythm and we suffer from sleep problems, headaches, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety etc.


We live our lives wondering about which supplement we should take and which diet to adapt in order to feel better.


But are supplements and diet the real solution?


All the farmers that I met up north had a quality of light and vitality in their eyes that I have never seen in the community of health seekers who are jumping from one dogmatic diet to another, and overburdened with the countless supplements they drag with them from one place to another.


Those farmers lived a balanced rhythmic lifestyle that was much different from the lifestyle we live in the city


They rose before sunrise, spent all their day outside in natural lighting, they eat seasonally, while the sun is out and at similar times every day, and fasted while the sun is down. Also, their only source of light after sunset was fire and candlelight.


Simply put, they lived a  rhythmic lifestyle that is in complete alignment with the balanced rhythmic light environment of nature.’


It is the forces of nature like light and darkness that reset our rhythm and enable us to synchronize with nature’s rhythm.


Those forces are the true LEADER that instruct our biochemistry on what to do.


When those forces are chaotic due to an unbalanced indoor lifestyle, our biochemistry will suffer no matter how hard we try to fix it with diets and supplements.


As much as we need sunlight during the day and darkness after the sunset, every kid needs this consistent rhythm and regularity in order to grow in an orderly fashion.


I truly wished that my parents knew what you now KNOW. This would have saved me 20 years of chaos and disorientation. 


But here is the good news. 


Those 20 years of suffering led to a massive transformation in my life and health, and I am on an unwavering  mission to elevate people’s light environment to a whole new level of alignment with nature in order to live in an optimal rhythm, resulting in better sleep, more energy and focus and higher productivity.


Most importantly, it’s my deep desire to extend this knowledge to every parent in the world, so that together, we can help our kids to mitigate the effects of artificial lighting and maximize healthy light in their life.


Each and everyone of you has the power to multiply yourself by extending this knowledge to other parents who will also extend this knowledge to other parents, until the whole earth is illuminated by the LIGHT.


The rest of this blog is dedicated to giving you an understanding about the common sources of junk light, their effects on health, and most importantly, WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT TODAY.

 


Common Sources of Blue Light for Children

Most children now have a smartphone, tablet, laptop or smart watch which expose them to an artificial and incomplete spectrum of light. Even at school they are exposed to artificial light via the smart boards and fluorescents in classrooms.


The full spectrum of sunlight is composed of ultraviolet (UV) light, visible light (the colors of the rainbow) and infrared (IR) light.

 

 Both ultraviolet and infrared light have a significant impact on our health even if we can’t see them. In nature, the spectrum of light changes constantly. Some wavelengths of light are present all the time (like infrared) and others aren’t (like UV or blue light). 


Blue light is present during the day but diminishes at sunset and is absent during the late evening and at night. 


Artificial light from LED bulbs or screens are an incomplete spectrum of light as they do not have any UV and infrared light. The color temperature they emit represents the sun at noon which disrupts the circadian rhythm in kids leading to a host of problems as they are never exposed to the natural variation of light present in nature. 


The technological development and the instauration of the internet has had multiple benefits for our societies but created a lot of detrimental effects on our health, especially on children.

 

Let’s see how junk light affects kids and what you can do about it. 

1) ADHD & behavioral disorders

Many adults have difficulty focusing these days and most kids are diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school.


This diagnosis is the effect of non harmonious living. Don’t make the mistake of treating the effect as the cause. My teachers at school did not know, and as a result,  they identified me with the label ‘’ADHD’’, and have mistakenly perceived this label as the cause, rather than the effect of a cause that they were blind to.


My intuition knew the cause. This is why I misbehaved and created different strategies for my teacher to kick me out of the classroom.


Today, 20 years have passed, and our society is still blind to the cause, regardless of the fact that many studies have been conducted to open our eyes to this fact.


A study was conducted in the Sarasota County school systemThe in 1973 where they placed children in either a room illuminated by cool white fluorescent tubes (artificial light) or a full spectrum light. The experiment demonstrated that children with ADHD symptoms calmed down completely and were able to overcome their learning disabilities when they were placed under full spectrum light. They also developed one third fewer dental cavities than the other group during the 5 months period of the study.  Two similar studies were conducted in 1975 in California and Washington and showed similar results.


When natural sunlight hits your eyes, you start producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in cognition, memory, motivation, mood, attention and learning. It’s also important for our decision making process and our sleep regulation. When kids never go outside and are constantly in an environment lighted by artificial light, which is far from a full spectrum light, they lack the ability to produce dopamine in a sufficient amount. This leads to low dopamine levels which are associated with cravings, sugar addiction, low energy, lack of motivation, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, anxiety and depression. 


There is a reason why most kids and teens are addicted to video games, sugar and social media. They all trigger dopamine release and activate their reward system. 


The big problem with screen addiction is that artificial light destroys our dopamine levels over time creating a vicious circle where children need even more stimulation to get the effect. Giving your kid screen time on a TV, smartphone or tablet to keep them entertained and calm reinforces the problem you were trying to solve in the first place. 


When you combine the lack of dopamine production from lack of sunlight with the rapid decrease in dopamine levels due to chronic exposure to blue light, you are left with kids who have low dopamine levels and can’t function properly. 



2) Eyesight

Myopia and eye problems are on the rise in children. During the two years of the pandemic, myopia has gone up 3x compared to the previous years in children attending school. Due to the isolation and lockdown, they spent even more time than usual looking at screens which increased the damage to their eyes. [4]


Blue light has short wavelengths, which causes light to scatter more easily than other colors. When looking at a computer screen or other digital devices that emit significant amounts of blue light, the scattering of light reduces contrast which leads to eye strain. Since blue light has a higher index of refraction than the rest of visible light, it focuses in front of the retina which is why excess blue light exposure can lead to a condition called blue myopia. Long exposure to an incomplete spectrum of light can lead to dry eyes, eye strain, loss of visual acuity, migraine and eventually macular degeneration.


In sunlight, the blue light is balanced by the rest of the spectrum so it doesn’t cause this problem. Children’s eyes are more at risk of blue light toxicity because their lens is more transparent and their pupils are bigger so more light gets through. 



3) Hormonal imbalances

Hormonal issues like diabetes and weight gain are on the rise in children and teens. Studies have shown that artificial light can cause hormonal imbalances via multiple mechanisms. One of the most poorly known effects of blue light is the disruption of leptin. [5]


Leptin is the hormone of energy regulation in the body. It works like the fuel gauge in your car. If it’s broken, you have no way of knowing how much energy is available in your body. Your brain will put in place strategies to increase your appetite and lower your metabolic rate to ensure that you have sufficient energy reserve (i.e fat) for future needs. 


Leptin is very sensitive to the light environment. Kids who lack sun exposure or who look at screens and are exposed to artificial light, especially at night, lose their leptin sensitivity and their metabolism becomes dysfunctional.[6] Since leptin has an impact on every hormone in the body, this can lead to inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, growth issues, delayed sexual maturation, etc. 


Recent research demonstrated that the body mass index of children is higher in those spending the most amount of time in front of screens or under artificial lighting. The lack of activity plays a role but even kids who move and play indoors under man-made light are more likely to experience weight issues. [9]



4) Immune system

If children are leptin resistant because they are chronically exposed to artificial light, their liver can't transform the vitamin D their skin makes from sun exposure into the active form of vitamin D. So their immune system won't be able to function properly and they won't be able to fight off infection and inflammation as well as they should.


Excessive blue light exposure acts as a stressor to their bodies and increases their cortisol levels. Cortisol is an important hormone for anti-inflammatory and stress regulation purposes but when chronically high, it inhibits the immune system leading to allergies, higher risk of infections and auto-immune diseases. 


5) Sleep

Kids and teens require more sleep than adults. Their brain isn’t fully formed yet and it needs more downtime to integrate their daily learning and interactions with the world and consolidate their memory and new motor skills. 


Optimized sleep requires the right internal and external environment. This includes a winding down period before bed, a dark room, the right amount of melatonin and a good regulation of the autonomic nervous system which controls sleep. All of these are tied to light.


Melatonin is an important hormone that regulates sleep but also our healing abilities. It is produced in response to sunlight during the day and released in the blood at night when it’s dark. When kids are exposed to artificial light at night, which contains a lot of blue light that isn’t supposed to be present in their environment at this time of day, it destroys their melatonin levels. Low melatonin levels make it harder for kids to go to bed at the appropriate time while lowering the quantity and quality of their sleep. That’s why it can be so hard to wake them up in the morning. Poor sleep leads to learning difficulties, behavioral problems and developmental delay. [7-8]




How to optimize your kids health

Now that you understand how important the light environment is for your child, it’s time to learn easy solutions to optimize it.


1) Sunlight exposure

Get your kid outside in the sun. Take a walk, go to the park or play with them in natural light. This will ensure that they stimulate their own dopamine production to optimize their learning, mood, motivation and energy levels. In addition, it will stimulate their production of melatonin for rest and repair during the following night and increase their production of vitamin D for an optimal immune system. 



2) Circadian lenses

Make them wear a pair of our circadian lenses every time they are indoor under artificial lighting or looking at screens. This will allow them to keep their melatonin levels high to ensure their sleep is deep and rejuvenating. 


Vivarays glasses are designed to transform their light environment and optimize their health. Much more than regular blue light blocking glasses, they are designed to fit specific periods of the day to make sure that your kids are exposed to the right type of light at the right time by blocking the wavelengths of light that aren’t present in nature. 


Wearing these glasses, especially in the evening and at night, when they are exposed to artificial light will ensure that they maintain healthy levels of melatonin and benefit from its potent health enhancing effects. [2-3]



3) Change their light environment

Whenever you can, open a window to let the full spectrum of sunlight in the room. Replace the LED bulbs and fluorescent lighting in your house, especially in their bedroom, by red/amber or incandescent bulbs to decrease the amount of blue light they are exposed to. 


Make sure that their room is completely dark at night. Research on adults showed that even very dim light increases the risk for developing depression. We saw that children's eyes are more sensible to light than adults so we can assume this applies even more to them. [10]



4) Change their screen habits

Lower the amount of time they spend in front of their digital devices. Make them reconnect with the pleasure of being in nature. Establish a screen curfew to turn off all screens at least two hours before bedtime. Replace their screen time at night with activities that you can do together like board games, reading a book or simply spending time with family. 



5) Lead the way

Your children don’t do what you say. They do what you do. The number one driver of human behaviors is mimicking. It’s even more true in children as they develop most of their habits from reproducing yours. You have an incredible opportunity to mold their future by helping them create healthy habits that will serve not only them but also their children for the rest of their life!


Giving children the best health foundation is the greatest gift you can offer them. Technology has its benefits as long as you are mindful of how you use it. Nature gave us tremendous potential as humans and you can make the most of it by optimizing the environment and habits of the future generations.



References


  1. Tähkämö L, Partonen T, Pesonen AK. Systematic review of light exposure impact on human circadian rhythm. Chronobiol Int. 2019 Feb;36(2):151-170. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2018.1527773. Epub 2018 Oct 12. PMID: 30311830.

  1. van der Lely S, Frey S, Garbazza C, Wirz-Justice A, Jenni OG, Steiner R, Wolf S, Cajochen C, Bromundt V, Schmidt C. Blue blocker glasses as a countermeasure for alerting effects of evening light-emitting diode screen exposure in male teenagers. J Adolesc Health. 2015 Jan;56(1):113-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.08.002. Epub 2014 Oct 3. PMID: 25287985.

  1. Lee SI, Matsumori K, Nishimura K, Nishimura Y, Ikeda Y, Eto T, Higuchi S. Melatonin suppression and sleepiness in children exposed to blue-enriched white LED lighting at night. Physiol Rep. 2018 Dec;6(24):e13942. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13942. PMID: 30556352; PMCID: PMC6295443.

  1. Wang J, Li Y, Musch DC, et al. Progression of Myopia in School-Aged Children After COVID-19 Home Confinement. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2021;139(3):293–300. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.6239

  1. Figueiro MG, Plitnick B, Rea MS. Light modulates leptin and ghrelin in sleep-restricted adults. Int J Endocrinol. 2012;2012:530726. doi: 10.1155/2012/530726. Epub 2012 Aug 14. PMID: 22988459; PMCID: PMC3440859.

  1. Cheung IN, Zee PC, Shalman D, Malkani RG, Kang J, Reid KJ. Morning and Evening Blue-Enriched Light Exposure Alters Metabolic Function in Normal Weight Adults. PLoS One. 2016 May 18;11(5):e0155601. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155601. PMID: 27191727; PMCID: PMC4871543.

  1. Hale L, Guan S. Screen time and sleep among school-aged children and adolescents: a systematic literature review. Sleep Med Rev. 2015 Jun;21:50-8. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2014.07.007. Epub 2014 Aug 12. PMID: 25193149; PMCID: PMC4437561.

  1. Curcio G, Ferrara M, De Gennaro L. Sleep loss, learning capacity and academic performance. Sleep Med Rev. 2006 Oct;10(5):323-37. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2005.11.001. Epub 2006 Mar 24. PMID: 16564189.

  1. Pattinson CL, Allan AC, Staton SL, Thorpe KJ, Smith SS (2016) Environmental Light Exposure Is Associated with Increased Body Mass in Children. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0143578. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143578

  1. Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3–17. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702617723376

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