Are candles superior to standard lightbulbs and television/computer screens at night time in regards to circadian rhythm?
I don't like the idea of candles. I'm not so sure that the vaporizing wax is a good thing to breathe in, and some are scented, so that would be a source of VOCs. Plus they make for an excellent fire risk. There are LED ones that simulate the flicker, and provide a nice orange glow, but I find I don't use either.
Instead, you can also replace a light in your bedroom with a dim yellow colored one. I replaced most of the lights in our house with LED lights, except one of the bedroom lamps with a CF yellow light. They're sold as "party lights" in home depot, orange might also work. I've not found LED versions of those, though I'm sure they could be masked with a yellow gel, as long as they don't heat up to the point of melting the plastic on the gel.
I find that I can't read more than half an hour with that light, though the text is very visible, since it makes me sleepy immediately, no matter how compelling the book I read VS having nights where I've stayed up until I finished the entire book in one go. :)
F.Lux on the computer helps, also I use a Nook color that I've replaced the OS on with Phiremod and use the Aldiko ebook app on there, which has day and night modes, so you can change the foreground and background colors and can adjust the brightness by dragging your finger on the left hand edge. I've set the night one to a yellowish background with black text.
Heavy black out curtains help as well, but when the neighbors turn on their back yard flood lights, some light got through the separation between the wall and the curtain. So, I used large sized binder clips to ensure no gaps between the wall and the curtain, by clipping the curtain to the metal body of the blind under the curtain.
I've also taken to covering the front of the alarm clocks in the room, and using black electrical tape on the LEDs of the set top box and other indicator lights in the bedroom where needed.
Before switching to a FiOS multi room DVR, I had a TiVo in the bedroom as well as one in the living room and the hard drive in it woke me as it did it's nightly cleanup/compression. The new STB is quiet as it has no moving parts.
I also have a small HEPA filter in the room, not so much for cleaning the air of dust, though that was the original purpose, but to provide enough white noise to mask things like passing airplanes and other noise, like cats in heat in the summer.
These all make for a huge difference in sleep quality, and are far nicer than candles, IMHO.
I'm fortunate to have a ready source of handmade beeswax candles (from the same farmer who runs the apiary where I get my local raw honey), so I tend to use candles for the 2 hrs right before bed -- a candlelit bath, and a book -- and it's made a big difference for me. On the nights when I stay up and watch TV, even if there are no lights lit in the front room aside from the TV, it takes me at least twice as long to fall asleep once the lights are out.
I think I bigger effect comes from limiting your activities to things that don't use a screen, although it is nice to be able to read by firelight. It can depend when you go to bed though, it makes much more sense to then 'be productive' and turn on all the lights early in the morning rather than stay up late by candlelight. And of course when outdoors and sat round the fire it certainly comes more naturally.
Interesting question; I've never really thought about this before! Many people do recommend burning beeswax candles for an hour or so before going to bed. They would have to be 100% beeswax,though, as other candles are not good for your health (or the environment's health). Up front: I'm a beeswax chandler & have a couple of blog posts that discuss candle waxes, fragrance and the air-cleaning ability of beeswax candles.
Links: http://smallbones.ca/blog/the-lowdown-on-fragrances-flavours/ http://smallbones.ca/blog/the-lowdown-on-candle-waxes/ http://smallbones.ca/blog/finally-evidence-that-beeswax-emits-the-most-negative-ions/
The study referenced on the third post is not on-line, but the info was sent to me by the fellow who taught me how to make beeswax candles properly & is the founder of the Canadian Beeswax Chandlers Guild, so I trust him.
I moved from the city to a tiny rural hamlet in 1998 – no noise, a couple of street lights, cleaner air – I've never slept better!
Instead of replacing all your light sources, you could just get blue-blocking glasses. You wear them for a couple of hours before bed. I use mine every evening. They make you look like a dork, but they work well.
I think they allow melatonin excretion much better, but it's tough to do anything by candle. Trade off health for productivity...
I use some 100% beeswax candles sometimes and I do get more sleepy much faster with those.
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