The Impact of LED Lights on our Health


Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are gaining popularity due to their efficiency and lower cost. 

In 2016 already the American Medical Association stated that LED lighting can have a negative impact on human health. LED lights emit short-wave, high-energy light from the blue and violet end of the color spectrum.

This range of light has the most impact on our sleep-wake cycle and the maintenance of our circadian rhythm. Exposure to blue light at night disrupts melatonin production which can increase sleep disorders, decrease the quality of our sleep and cause insomnia.

Continuous exposure to LED lighting can result in dry, itchy, or red eyes as well as mild to severe headaches. 

When the retina has long-term exposure to blue lighting the risk for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration increases. Even short periods of exposure can impact the retina negatively.

Blue lights vary in intensity and toxicity. High-intensity cold blue light is the most phototoxic, disrupting visual health and fast-tracking degenerative eye diseases. The warmer white LED lighting is most like traditional lighting and thus has lower phototoxicity risks.

Children and teenagers are particularly sensitive to the harmful effects of cold blue light since their eyes are not developed enough to be able to filter it properly.

Blue light from the sun is healthy since it promotes alertness, a healthy mood, and increases our motivation. The best time to be exposed to the sun is between 7am and 11am daily.  

Our bodies function in cycles so any disruption can cause desynchronization which can lead to ill health. It’s very important that we are exposed to enough light and darkness each day so that we can be in balance.

When we are exposed to artificial light at night it can increase our risk for certain cancers, metabolic disorders as well as mood and behavioral disorders.

Blue light stimulates the production of serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is necessary for body temperature control, mood, appetite, sleep, and social behavior. Dopamine is necessary for concentration and focus as well as motivation, pleasure, attention and learning capacity, and motor activity.

If we are exposed to too much LED lighting, our bodies may over produce these brain chemicals, giving them an excitatory effect on our brains and bodies, which can cause mental, emotional, and cognitive disorders as well as sleep disturbances. 

While we may want to prolong our days and make the most of our waking hours, it is best to manage the amount of time exposed to LED lighting. Opt rather for candlelight or low lighting that resembles fire light so that your brain can get used to the idea that the end of the day is near and it’s time to switch off and regenerate so that you can be fresh and alert tomorrow.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 7 July 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am