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House of blue lights

There’s a great western swing song about a roadhouse called “House of Blue Lights” by the band Asleep at the Wheel. The song is a few decades old. These days, the house of blue lights may be your own, and there may be trouble a-brewin’. Let me explain.

Blue light is a form of lighting that’s given off by many electronics we use every day — and even night. Harvard researchers say it’s doing all kinds of wacky things to us, such as messing up our sleep patterns and surpressing our production of melatonin.

Not that it’s all bad. Blue light is great during the day. It helps your mood, your attention span and reaction time. But an overdose of it in the evening hours has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and some cancers.

While there are all kinds of wavelength colors of light bombarding us at night, it’s the blue light that seems to be the culprit, and researchers don’t really know why. It may be from the light on your alarm clock, the light from your computer screen or smart phone, or even those new energy efficient LED bulbs and fluorescent lights.

Part of the problem stems simply from how the world has changed. We used to work during the day by sunlight, and we were in darkness when the sun went down — save a candle or two. Then came the invention of the electric light, which lengthened our days considerably. While it was dark outside, we were now able to continue working into the evening hours. And now, there’s light everywhere all the time, and it isn’t helping our bodies at all.

I went to an expert to find out exactly how much of an effect blue light is having on us. Dr. Lois Krahn, a sleep specialist at the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Scottsdale, explains more (click the audio below):