I had heard of blue light before but I never realized how serious of an issue it was until this interview! I was amazed to learn how much light affects everything, from our mood to our sleep to our digestion and so much more. In this conversation, we dive deep into all things light and how it impacts us from a physical to an emotional to a spiritual level. We are all light-beings and it’s important for us to realize the impact the light around us is having on our cognitive state.
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Episode 379: How The Light Affects Your Mood with Andy Mant
By Sahara Rose
Namaste, it’s Sahara Rose and welcome back to The Highest Self Podcast, a place where we discuss what makes You, Your Soul’s Highest Evolvement.
If it’s your first time listening – welcome, I’m so grateful to have you here! I am the bestselling author of “Discover Your Dharma” and a number of other books on Ayurveda, and I’ve been doing this Podcast for 4+ years, and really I’m here to make Spirituality modern, fun, relatable and grounded, so more people can experience the joy and the gifts of living their Soul Purpose on this planet.
And in today’s Episode we’re going to be talking a bit about ways that we can have higher health so we can be living these Purposes.
And I actually learned a lot in this Episode. I had heard about the effects of blue light before, but it was something I had heard about (I’m sure you’ve heard about as well), but I had never really, formally, gone into it the way that I have in this Episode.
And beyond just talking about blue light, we really speak about how light in general, affects your mood. And I really believe this is so important, especially for people in spiritual journeys, to understand because, really, what it means to ascend or to embody your highest self is to bring more light into your being.
Light is what connects everything; it is what creates life – Light creates life! And something I’m so passionate about is to remind us to embody the Sun, this is why I call us ‘Sun-Beings’, embodiments of the radiant Sun, shining our light vibrantly in the world, sharing our gifts without fearing the shadows of the world around us. And to embody our highest light, it is important to understand light and how light in general really affects us.
And something I really about is windows and how windows can actually block some of the beneficial light that we need to feel joyful and radiant and full of life, from really coming through.
So, in this Episode, I sit with Andy Mant, who is the founder of Blu Blox, to speak about all areas of light, from junk light; the light from our laptops; the light from our light switches; the flickering lights; the light outside; the sunlight vs. the light indoors. I learned so much in this Episode, and you’re really going to walk away with tangible tips and action steps that you can take to create more beneficial light in your life.
And I have noticed within myself, just being more mindful of light and I’ve been wearing his Blu Blox ever since this Episode, consistently, every single night, the moment it gets dark, I got those glasses on. And it’s so funny because the moment I take them off or accidentally see some light, me and my husband have this joke where we’re “Ugh, blue light, blue light, get it away from us, blue light!” And it’s hilarious because it hurts my eyes now to see, whereas before, I would have that light on right until I went to sleep. And I’m also noticing, just the higher quality of sleep that I’m getting and waking up earlier in the morning while actually getting the same amount, or even less, sleep because the quality of my sleep is better. And I actually plan to get one of those Sleep Tracker Rings again, so I can really be tracking how many times I get up and seeing the difference between wearing the blue blockers vs. not. Though, I can feel the difference of that moment I even just see myself on screen or something, without having my blue blockers on (I notice a huge difference). And he also shares a tip for us to actually change our phone light,s at night, to this color filter that will change it to red light on your phone. So, even if you do look at your phone, it’s at least coming with red light.
And in this Episode he shares many, many practical tips and tools like this that you can begin implementing today to have better sleep, better mood and overall, live you fullest purpose without blue light holding back your vibe.
So, without further ado, let’s welcome Andy Mant to The Highest Self Podcast.
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Welcome Andy to The Highest Self Podcast, it’s great to have you here.
Thank you so much Sahara, it’s amazing to be here and have this opportunity to talk to your beautiful community.
Aww, thank you so much and we’re excited for it! So, the first question I’d love to ask you is what makes you your highest self?
Oh, this one’s a really good question! I’m really, I love to be elevated by new knowledge, so I am constantly reading and listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos that give me more knowledge, and I find that that really makes me my higher self, when I’m taking on new knowledge. And I feel absolutely amazing when I learn something new each day.
I love that so much! Yeah, I’m writing my next book about joy and I was speaking to my husband today, I was like “What makes you joyful”, and he said the exact same thing, when he’s just diving deep into a subject matter. Because there is something that feels so good about like “Ah, I just want to learn everything about this!” And there’s so much potential because you’re like “I get to read all this books” and it’s this new, exciting feeling when you find something new that you’re like “I want to, totally, dissect this!”
Yeah, absolutely! Couldn’t agree more! It’s so empowering to take on new knowledge. And you know, they say knowledge is power, and why not empower yourself with more knowledge.
I love that so much!
So, for me, a lot of my rabbit holes happen late at night and I’d love to hear your thoughts because I studied Ayurveda, I’ve written two books on Ayurveda, and Ayurveda’s very based on the circadian rhythm cycle, which we’re going to talk about today, and about waking up early, when the sun rises, sleeping by the time the sun sets, being in alignment with the natural cycles. In fact, we even have certain times of day that are related to different doshas, different energies.
But, I have found, throughout my life, that my natural tendency is to stay up later. I love waking up early, I’m so excited when that happens, but if I just let myself be as I am, I’ll probably sleep later and wake up later.
Do you think that we just have different natural tendencies or do you think it’s because we’re exposed to so much more blue light that our circadian rhythm is off?
Yeah, absolutely, I think it’s a really good question. And it really does come down to individuality as well, like the times that you want to go to bed and the times that you want to get up. You’ve probably heard of the expression like ‘night owls’ and ‘larks’ which means if you’re a night owl, you like to stay up a bit later and if you’re a lark, you like getting up early, and you can be a bit of both as well.
You know, blue light does cause issues when it comes to going to bed. I mean, what we find is that we have these circadian rhythms and they cause us to, basically, be active during the day, and be more relaxed during the evening, and then get ourselves off to sleep at whatever time you want to go to bed. And these rhythms, that cause us to be active, are actually governed by blue light. The sky is blue during the day, that light causes us to feel active and alert.
So, the more blue light we have in our homes, after sunset, the more that might influence the time that we go to bed because it’s keeping our cortisol levels high, it’s causing us not to release as much melatonin and to be a bit more active. So, what you’ll find is the people that start to manage the blue light in their homes may have originally thought “Oh, I’m a night owl, I go to sleep quite late”. When you actually start bringing your circadian rhythms back in line with how they evolve, ancestrally, hundreds and thousands of years ago, it might be a different story. Having said that, depending on where you, I guess, ancestry came from, different latitudes, you would be exposed to different amounts of blue light at different times of the day.
So, we’ve also got to look at seasonality of sleep as well. So, in the winter, you may want to go to bed a little bit earlier because it’s darker earlier, but in the summer months when, I’m from the UK originally, when it was, say, 9:00pm at night and the sun was still shining, I probably wouldn’t go to bed until 11:00 – 12:00 at night.
So, we’re just got to bear in mind that a lot of information that people have given us, from, sort of, sleep societies and governments and things like that, saying “You’ve got to get 8hrs of sleep; go to bed at this time”, it’s actually not all truth and context needs to be applied based on seasonality and the amount of blue light that’s in your home, but also, you as an individual as well, of when you actually start to feel sleepy.
So, I’m curious – ancestry, let’s say you’re from Finland or somewhere that they have 6 months of light basically all the time, and 6 months of dark all the time. Do you think that, maybe, your genes have adapted over time to have a season that you sleep a lot less than another?
Yeah, absolutely! And there’s been many studies on this actually, that have shown that sleep is more seasonal. And you only have to look at the animal kingdom and what do a lot of mammals do in the winter months? They hibernate, they sleep for longer periods because they want to conserve more energy; food isn’t as abundant in the winter months. So, moving around is not a good idea, so sleeping, actually, drops your heart rate, drops the amount of metabolic expenditure, so you’re not burning as many calories. So it makes sense from an evolutional and survival standpoint, to want to sleep more in those winter months.
And circadian rhythms are really interesting Sahara, because they’re from a Latin word ‘circa’ meaning ‘about’ and ‘dian’ meaning ‘a day’. And what these rhythms do is, they actually reset themselves every day.
So, every time you watch the sun rise, or if you, say, travel from the USA to Australia, your rhythms can actually change. So, someone’s, let’s say, in Finland or their ancestors have been from Finland, and they’ve had those 6 months of that sunlight and 6 months of darkness, when they move, say, to another part of the world, say the US, over, say, 2 or 3 weeks after the jet-lag has disappeared, they will actually have their circadian rhythm sync to that part of the earth, which shows that light really is the driver of the circadian rhythms, because if they were fixed and say an individual lived in Finland and then moved to the USA, they would be on a very weird time-schedule to everyone else if their circadian rhythm was fixed.
So, light, actually, in the environment will change that circadian rhythm and align the human to their new location. So, really fascinating stuff!
And people that actually live in the Arctic Circle, like you rightly said, are exposed to a lot of blue light during summer months and then in winter there’s a lot of darkness. And there’ll be awake for long, long periods of time in those summer months, and ancestrally, that makes sense because those would’ve been the times when they should’ve been gathering food; getting everything ready for those long, horrible, depressing winter months where there was no sun and no food, so they could survive those months.
Yeah! I’d be curious to know if they have higher levels of seasonal depression there or if, because they have so much sun in part of the year, it’s almost like their bodies know that “Oh, this is meant to happen”.
Yeah! It’s funny because there’s something that governs, I guess, the seasonality of depression. So, being from the UK, again, we have something there, and I’m sure you guys have it in North America as well, Seasonal Affective Disorder, where you don’t see as much sun, the UV levels are lower, so you’re not producing as much serotonin, which is like your happy hormone that’s created in the gut, and it’s typically created from sunlight, and that’s why I always advocate watching the morning sun and being outside a lot.
But you can also synthesize those happy hormones from a high seafood diet as well. And when you actually look at the northern latitudes, they don’t have much UV light synthesizing serotonin, but their diets are, ancestrally, very high in seafood, like Scandinavia, Canada, Alaska, I guess, as well, a lot of salmon there. So, they have, I guess – nature is so amazing, insomuch that, if one component for someone, say, in equatorial areas, like UV light isn’t present in those higher latitudes, they put something else there to be able to help create that amazing, sort of, hormone neuro-transmitter, serotonin, which is seafood.
But, what we’ve done, a bit like the blue light, we’ve created artificial suns now, which wreck our hormones, we’ve done the same in these, sort of, northern latitude countries, where seafood, perhaps, isn’t prominent in their diet anymore. You have the fast food chains entered the air and other, sort of, European cuisines, maybe going into Scandinavia, so they haven’t got the UV light to make them feel happy in those winter months, they haven’t got as much seafood to make them feel happy, so, you’re right in saying that those seasonal affected disorders, actually have been increasing over the last, sort of, 20-30 years, in those countries.
So fascinating! I do remember the times that I have been traveling, it’s like, suddenly, when it’s 8-9pm, the sun goes down, I’m exhausted, whereas, when I’m at home and I have my laptop and my computer and all of the different things, I’m not tired. So, it’s 100% related to my light exposure.
So, you spoke about how these different places have blue light, but there’s a huge difference between the sun’s blue light and the computers. Would the sun even be considered blue light? What is blue light vs. warm light? What’s the difference there?
Absolutely. So, blue light’s technical definition is, it’s high energy visible light, okay. So, when you look at a rainbow, okay, you see all different colors, so you have your blues, your reds, your orange, indigo’s your violet, and that’s all the colors of light, present in sunlight. We can’t see that, we can only see the sky that’s blue or the appearance of, sort of, white light, or the sun looks yellow in the sky, but all those colors are actually present in the sunlight, in very equal quantities. So, yes, blue light is present in natural light.
But each specific color of light has a property and it has a fundamental role to play on the body. For instance, blue light, has been shown in studies, to increase your cortisol, which is good during the day because it makes you feel alert; increases your serotonin and your dopamine levels.
Red light, for instance, on the other end of the spectrum, is a very low energy light, and it’s been shown in studies, in about 4000 of them, to heal, repair and to relax. So, all of these different spectrums of light are present in sunlight, so it’s very balanced.
But what we did in about 1995-1996, we decided to create a more intense artificial light. So, we had these incandescent light bulbs that were very high in red light, had yellow light, orange light and a bit of blue light in them, very balanced, like the sun. But what we did was, we wanted to create energy efficiency, so we took out all the high wavelengths like the red light and we just left blue light present in these LEDs, so we put them in our house lights, we put them in our laptops, in our phones, when all that technology started to progress.
Blue light, in isolation, does all the things that blue light in the sun does – it increases cortisol, increases dopamine, increases serotonin, but, because we stripped out all the red light, we didn’t have any of that balance, any of that healing, any of that restoration, any of that, sort of, hormone-balancing taking place. So, we decided to create these artificial suns, put them everywhere, in every device possible, live more indoors, away from those natural, beneficial sources of blue and red light, and then just pump our eyes full of this blue light, which was very much in isolation, which, during the day causes cellular damage, causes you to have dry eyes, headaches, maybe migraines, if you’re sensitive to blue light. But also, what we were doing was, instead of, after sunset, coming home and just having just incandescent light and maybe the old big back TVs for people old enough to remember, that wasn’t high-definition, there was not much blue light in there, so it didn’t really impact our sleep too much. But now, we’re going home, after sunset, we’re on our phones, we’re on our laptops, we’re watching high-def TVs, we’ve got these really high-LED, blue light emitting lights in our house, and that is sending messages to our brain to keep the cortisol levels high, stress hormones high, so we can’t unwind and it takes us longer, then, to go to sleep. And you need to produce something called melatonin to sleep, and you can’t produce melatonin when your cortisol levels are high. So, all that blue light keeps your cortisol levels high and doesn’t allow you to produce enough sleep hormones. So, you might be able to, maybe, get to sleep, eventually, but the good quality, deep and REM sleep isn’t happening because you’re not producing enough melatonin, because blue light is present in your environment.
I have, so, noticed that! I mean, I’ve recently started to, when the sun sets, I’ll put this red filter on my computer or on my phone and I noticed such a difference that, like, let’s say it comes off where I turn on a light or my flashlight or something, I’m like “Oh my God, blue light, get away from me”, it’s like, wow, I was going to bed with that thing before, and now, that I’m not used to it, I can see what a staunch difference it really is.
Absolutely! It’s one of those things, it’s a bit like, say, diet or Ayurveda, you mentioned that. Until you’ve done it, you don’t realize how unbalanced, perhaps, you were before. It’s one of those things you have to actually experience and then go back to the old way and be like “Oh, wow, yeah, that’s not right!”
And blue light is the same. I wear my blue light blocking glasses after sunset, and sometimes, if I don’t have them, if I forget them, if I’m going out, I literally feel like my eyes are burning out of my head, it’s a horrible feeling because I’m now so conditioned to seeing what my ancestors would’ve seen after sunset, which is why, wearing these, sort of, amber-red lens blue light glasses, everything, sort of, is appearing that, sort of, warm hue, which is relaxing me and it’s very much like sitting around the camp fire, like our ancestors would’ve done.
And a lot of people would testify to this, that when you go camping, you have a camp fire and you’re in the middle of a field somewhere, typically, people have the best night’s sleep of their life because there’s no blue light present, even though they’re sleeping in a tent, which is probably not as comfortable as their bed, but they’re actually getting a better night sleep because they’re able to produce a lot more melatonin because the blue light isn’t present, it’s just red, from their camp fire.
So true! I recently stayed at a place in Mexico that had no electricity, it was just candles. And at first, I thought “Oh my God, how am I going to get ready with candlelight” because it was the winter so it was getting dark at 6pm, but yeah, we slept so well, we woke up when the sun rose. You just feel like you’re in alignment with how you’re meant to live, whereas now, we’re so wired and then of course, when you go on these Apps like Instagram and TikTok, it’s all the sound as well; all the sound pollution coming in and then I’m like sleeping, I have 20 million different songs in my head on top of the light.
So, it’s tough because sometimes too, the only time we do get to watch Netflix or be online etc. are in those afterhours when it does destroy your circadian rhythm cycle.
So, what do you suggest that we do to better adapt to the modern-day technology?
Yeah. So, that’s a great question as well because, you know, I don’t want to scare anyone in throwing their phone in the bin and living in a field somewhere. Technology is amazing, it’s allowing us to speak right now and I love it. And I had a really interesting podcast recording yesterday where we spoke about technology and how it’s amazing, but we just need to manage it in a correct way, in order to use it, that keeps our bodies in balance, keeps our hormones functioning correctly and keeps us healthy.
And there’s ways – lots of little, we call them packs (like bio-hacks) in our community. And you mentioned, you can change your phone to red – there’s actually a blog that I’ve written on that, on Google, which you can hack your phone, so you can triple click the button and it turns your phone completely red, so it’s not emitting any blue light.
So, after sunset, you can actually scroll your phone a little bit as well and not impact your sleep.
I’ll link that blog post too, that’s really cool, with the button, to do that, that’s so much easier.
Yeah, a little shortcut. I’ll email that to you guys afterwards and you can share that one (yes, so that’s fantastic to do). But, also, looking at your house environment and maybe in a couple of lamps in your house, you could put in some red light bulbs because, then, you’ve got a little bit more balance light in your environment, you’re not just bombarding your skin and your eyes with blue light, which will disrupt your sleep and cause damage to your skin. Putting some red light bulbs in can help as well. And if you don’t have any red light bulbs, maybe some salt lamps, they give out that nice, warm, orange, sort of, pinky red light, which is really beneficial for us.
Blue light blocking glasses are great as well. Get yourself some good quality pair, they’ve got to be that, sort of, red-orange lens and they’ve got to block all blue light and a lot of green light. And you wear those maybe 2-3 hours before bed and literally, anyone that wears these for the first time, you’re out like a light within 2-3 hours of wearing them, so, well worth trying blue light blocking glasses.
And what the biggest, biggest tip I can always give people, as well, to mitigate any of the effects of blue light, and during the day, is be outside as much as you can. If you’re working in an office, maybe take your lunch outside; maybe watch the sunrise in the morning, before work, just for a couple of minutes, just to entrain your circadian rhythm, and take regular sun breaks. The people that have the horrible habit of smoking, are allowed to go out and smoke in the morning or the afternoon here in Australia, they’re allowed 10 minutes outside, so why not just say to your boss “I’m going out for a sun break. People can smoke so I’m going to have 10 minutes, I’m going to walk around the block, take in some of that natural light through my eyes” which is a lot of red light and a lot of balanced light, and that will make you feel balanced from a hormonal perspective.
You can also do little hacks on your computer as well, where you can turn the blue light down on a lot of monitors these days, and if you don’t have that, you can download some free software like F-lux, which allows you to dim down a lot of the blue light which isn’t going to cause as much eye damage.
So, I think those are quite a few good little tips to get people started but if I had to say two takeaways – definitely watch the sunrise every morning, you’ll feel incredible, as you mentioned Sahara, when you went away, you felt so aligned. But also, after sunset, vest in a good quality pair of blue light glasses and you will see a huge difference to not only your sleep but to your energy levels as well in the next day.
Yeah! In Shamanic practices and probably other spiritual traditions, they do sun-gazing during the sunrise and sunset, where they stare into the sun for the potent benefits that it gives. Do you do any sun-gazing practice?
Yeah, I actually do. I don’t look directly at the sun, I’ve got blue eyes, which means I have very low melanin, so they’re very sensitive to too much ultraviolet light, so I would only, typically, do my sun-gazing when ultraviolet light isn’t present, which is at sunrise. So, I watch it, maybe, slightly to the right of the sun, in the mornings, and allow that to go, sort of, straight into my eyes that way.
And it’s very interesting that you mention that because last year I had a similar conversation on Shaman Durek’s podcast Ancient Wisdom Today and we talked a little bit about sun-gazing on there as well, and he was a firm believer that basically it’s a good practice, and yeah, he also agreed on the blue light and the glasses side of things as well, which was really interesting as well.
So, I always like to cavy at, don’t go out at the middle of the day and just look straight at the sun, maybe work your way up a little bit, maybe look slightly away from the morning sun, to start with, and just see how you go. But definitely a great practice and when I do that I definitely feel like I get more energy in my body and I definitely feel more grounded when I do that. And I like to watch the sun bare foot as well, on the grass, on the sand and allow just my body to be grounded to the earth while doing it. And I find that that really accentuates the benefits of the sunrise as well and it’s such a great feeling.
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Yeah, the practice that I learned, it was a sunrise practice, and essentially, you have your feet (your bare feet) on the earth, you’re looking at the sun or you could look around the sun as well, when it’s rising, so it’s barely even up, it’s actually before it’s come up and you sort of lift up your arms, you lift them up straight, and then you imagine like you’re sucking in the sun’s energy, and you go (sucking in sound), like you’re sucking it in, and then you bring your hands towards your third eye and then you bring it down your body. So, you’re integrating it into your body and you repeat that cycle. This is a Shamanic practice to bring in, because the sun, the solar energy, is the most potent, magnificent energy. And I call our community sun-beings, we are here to embody the sun – so, to wake up and to have that practice to welcome the sun, to greet the sun.
We expect the sun to be there but what gratitude that the sun keeps rising for us every single day and we, too, get to keep rising every single day and sharing our radiance. And so, I love that practice.
And what I also learned is that the same, beneficial, UV light doesn’t come through windows. So, sometimes you think “Oh, I can see the sun from the outside”, I used to think that but then my friend was like “No, you have to be outside because through the windows you’re not going to receive the same benefits”.
Do you know a little bit more about that science?
Yeah, absolutely! And there’s a very prominent doctor, whose one of the leading light experts in Germany, a guy called Dr. Alexander Wunsch, that has researched this very, very extensively. And he coined the term ‘junk light’, because a lot of people think, right, you’ve got artificial light and you’ve got natural light, but actually you’ve got junk light, and that’s any kind of filtered sunlight. So, if you wear sunglasses, that’s going to filter the types of light that are passing through your eyes, which is going to send the wrong messages to your hormonal system, and the same is true for windows. So, when you, I always say to people, if you’re sitting in an office, sit as far away from the window as you can because windows allow – there’s three types of UV (UVA, UVB, UVC) and what you find is, the only type of light, the invisible light that’s filtered through a window, is actually the type of UV light that actually can cause skin cancers and some problems for the skin, because in isolation, the UVA is really detrimental to you, but when you’ve got UVA, UVB, UVC, you haven’t got a problem. So, if you’re out in the sunlight with no glass pane in front of you, totally fine, but when you’re behind the glass pane, all the good UV is basically left outside and the bad stuff is coming through.
So, when you are in an office, sit as far away from the window, and then also, number one is when you’re driving and the sun’s coming through your car. I always say you’ve got to get your window open, even if it’s just a crack, to allow some of the sunlight to hit your face or your body whilst you’re driving. Otherwise you’re going to be driving in cars with windows in front of you that don’t actually allow in very detrimental frequencies of light through, and all the good stuff is left outside. So, yeah, I’m so happy you raised that, again, I spoke about that yesterday, on another show, so more people are waking up to the fact that light behind the window is as bad as sitting in artificial light. It’s no different.
Wow, I didn’t realize it was that bad, I just knew it wasn’t as good. So, that’s crazy because we hear all the time “Sit near the window because if you’re working it will boost your mood to see the sun”, but now we’re hearing that, you know… Would this be something more if you have lighter skin and a higher chance or skin cancer to be aware of or would you just say this is for everyone?
It’s interesting (skin cancer) and again, I’ve done quite a lot of research on it and there’s a lot of studies out there that have looked at how light can play a role in the development of, perhaps, non-cancerous and cancerous melanomas. And a lot of it comes down to – basically our bodies can’t detect UV light, it’s only the appearance of blue light, which tells our body that UV light is present and it makes sense because when the sky is blue, the sun is typically out, UV is typically highest. And what happens is, blue light then triggers the release of cortisol, and cortisol is the antagonist, so almost like a neutralizer, to any negative effects that UV light can cause.
So, when you are taking in UV light to make Vitamin D and to make you really, really healthy, in all aspects, if you have too much of it, it’s going to cause some cellular damages (it’s the fact of the matter), but when you can actually go into artificial-lit environments after sunset, we’ve seen a study that has shown that the skin actually has its own circadian rhythm, where it’s protective during the day and then it repairs in the absence of blue light after dark. So when we go home after, say, a day outside, exposing ourselves to UV, any damage that the UV light has caused on our skin, needs darkness to repair. But we are then putting on our house light, putting on out TV and our phone, and that blue light is basically saying to our eyes “Okay, well, there’s UV light present, so we don’t need to repair right now, we just need to protect”, so we’re not giving our skin a chance to heal from any of that damage during the day.
Now, in answer to your question about skin color and UV – absolutely it will play a massive role because something called melanin builds up in our skin and the closer you are to the equator, the darker your skin will be, so that means there’s more melanin building up into your skin, and melanin filters ultraviolet light. So, you’ll find that, perhaps if a blue-eyed Caucasian, like myself, who, when I live in the UK, very, very pale because I need to be pale, I need to not have much melanin, so I don’t need to filter UV light, I need to be able to take a lot of it in because there’s not much of it in England, it’s raining every day.
But when I moved to Australia, my skin tone darkened because I became more adapted to that environment, because I needed more melanin, because there’s more UV light in Australia, so I needed to filter more of it.
So, people that, perhaps, ancestrally, have come from equatorial areas and are now living in higher latitudes, it doesn’t work the other way, their skin won’t lighten to any great degree like, say, a Caucasian skin or darker with melanin. So, if they are sat near to a window, the detrimental effects of the UV light would be less for someone of that ancestral background than someone from, say, my ancestral background, from Northern Europe, because they have more protection against UV, naturally, based on their ancestry and their evolution.
Wow! So, I wonder if someone who came from closer to the equator has darker skin, like myself, my ancestors are from Iran, India, Middle East – so, would someone that has more melanin in their skin be more likely to have Seasonal Affective Disorder, if they’re in a place with no sun, because their skin needs a certain amount of sun?
Yeah, I love your thought process, exactly right, yeah, that is exactly right! Because, technically (and the same goes for me), we’re not in the location that we should be in, based on our ancestry. So, there will be some detrimental effects of us being in those areas, but, having said that, you can actually store Vitamin D from UV light, so, what I always say is, if you have a darker skin complexion or you are susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder, in the winter, and I’m very susceptible to it, you need to be out more in those high UV months (in those spring and summer months) to build up those stores of Vitamin D, in your body, from the UV light, so you can slowly start secreting those, the hormone Vitamin D that you’ve created during those winter months, which is more likely to starve off the more intense feelings of loneliness and down and depression in those winter months.
But also, you can counteract that with diet as well, you can actually supplement on a lot of fish oils or maybe eat a lot more fish when you start to feel down in those winter months as well. But, yes, it’s a really good question, and one that is very true insomuch that, yeah, your skin tone will affect how you feel in some of those more colder and darker months, because if you think about it, from an ancestral point of view, when, say, someone from the equator or someone that’s living in, maybe, the Middle East, in Persia and that sort of area, you’re going to have much more UV light all year round and then, all of a sudden, your body that’s evolved under that, for say 600,000 years, and all your hormonal processes from your ancestors suddenly you find yourselves in New York, for instance, and it’s -10°C in winter and your body’s going to be like “What’s all this about” and things won’t function, perhaps, as well as they would if you were still living where you were, ancestrally. But, having said that, I wouldn’t change going back and living in England over living in Australia because I feel much happier here, there’s much more sunlight for me, on the flip side, because in the UK, for about 3 months, I was really depressed because of the weather. So, it’s really, kind of, weighing up how you’re feeling in a certain area and whether there are certain months that you might feel down, but there are protocols you can put into place to really lift that mood. You can actually use color therapy in winter months as well. Studies have shown that exposure to very bright yellow light or wearing glasses that actually filter blue light and allow yellow light through into your eyes can actually elevate mood and create the environment around you to look really bright, and that actually “trick” the brain into, kind of, thinking “Okay, it’s summer, it’s great, I release more serotonin and I feel fantastic”.
So, there are, sort of, little hacks that you can do to really help that, so, we don’t want people feeling down, and I know exactly how that feels, it’s horrible.
Yeah, absolutely! I was seeing this trend on TikTok recently, coming out of the winter, people saying they just go outside and they see the sun and they feel like they’re on party drugs, because all of a sudden, their serotonin, their dopamine, everything goes up and they’re like “Wait, I thought I was depressed; it’s just that I didn’t have sunlight!” And it’s just crazy to think that so many people live like this and we so need to address all of the ways. Imagine if you get to your office before the sun rises (as a lot of people do), you’re in these fluorescent lights the entire day, which, you know – when I just go to the airport, I’m like “Oh my God!” The way that the airport, it’s always the same lighting no matter what time of day. You get off the plane, you’re in the airport, you’re like “What”, they should really adjust the lighting according to what time it is, it would really make the experience better for everyone.
But, I mean, most of the population is having to deal with this and we would be so much more happier, more productive, living more in alignment with our purposes if we were just in environments that can support us.
And I know for me, growing up in Boston, which is very cold and wintery all the time, I just knew in my bones “I’m not supposed to be here! This is not right for my body!” And I live in Miami now, which is great, and I’m just like “Bring on the heat! Bring on the humidity! This is my ancestral way!” And I think a lot of people whose ancestors don’t even come from that – we want it, because, naturally, we want to be somewhere that is warm and conducive etc.
Yeah, it’s all so fascinating! And I’ve also been researching a lot about color because of my book on joy, and finding that highly saturated color, actually, is related to more joy around the world.
So, it’s been interesting because a lot of times it’s more trendy to be neutrals, greys, minimalist, all white everything, that’s seen as more mature; sophisticated, high-end etc. and then if you look at something really colorful, you think “Oh, that’s cheap” or “That’s low-end” or whatever, and that actually, in a way, it comes from colonialism. Because in a lot of cultures around the world, they had all these different fabrics and prints and all these colors and they would pass down their art across generations and then we created the trend that only beige on beige is cool, like Burberry from the UK, it’s literally beige on beige on beige. And then it set this world trend to do that, but that’s what the environment in the UK looked like – if you looked outside, you saw greys, you saw beiges, so naturally you’re going to want to reflect that in how you dress, it’s going to feel weird to you to wear lime green and orange when, outside, it feels dreary, you can do it but that’s not what nature has. Whereas, if you look at the nature in different parts of the world, the leaves, the green of the leaves are activated, they’re alive, the sky is so blue, everything is so alive and saturated, so of course, our clothing and our choices are going to mimic it. So, just an easy way for us to bring more joy into our lives is to have more color around our room. Instead of maybe making everything all white, paint a wall yellow or get some colorful flowers or add a cool, red vase or something like that, and those little dashes of joy – I mean, since moving to Miami, I went from LA kind of neutral clothes to tie-dye rainbow everything, and it’s really made my mood so much more enhanced just by seeing those colors.
Yeah, my brain is ticking when you’re saying that. It makes so much sense because just two, sort of, populations, in the UK (and I guess the US) that are hippy culture – they were so happy and they wore those colorful, beautiful colors and always felt so amazing.
And also, in Australia…
But Austin Powers, I watched Austin Powers this week, I was like “I want to go there! Bring me back to the 60s!”
Oh yes, I’d love to experience the 60s, I’ll tell you that, looks fun! And also the indigenous, the Aborigines in Australia, always like, yellows, reds, greens, a lot of it, painting their bodies and they’re always, sort of, happy, in this community, and there’s never any bland colors, everything’s got pops of color everywhere. And then you go and watch a program on TV, which is all high-end property, and it’s all just sterile-looking and you’re conditioned to think “Oh, that’s what I need to look like”, says the guy sat here in a white t-shirt! So, maybe I need to go and get a green or yellow one on today!
Yes! I mean, really, it’s these little choices. We have all red lights in our home and we have totally adapted everything, so it’s these little choices that really do make a difference and then, before you know it, you’re like “Wow, I feel like a totally different person than I was even a month ago just because I’m wearing colorful clothes and I have my blue blockers on and I have red light. And maybe that’s all I really needed, maybe I’m not so fucked up than I thought!”
The little things – it’s sometimes the simple things, right? and yeah, I love that, I’m going to definitely try that for a few weeks. I’ve got some colorful clothes, they just sit at the back of my wardrobe and I just pick whites out. I’ve got, maybe, seven different white t-shirts, I don’t know why, it’s foolish really.
Yeah, it’s because our society makes us think it’s mature to do that and even childish to be colorful. As a kid, no kid is like “I want all whites and neutrals and greys”, at all, kids love colorful everything. You buy colorful clothing for babies, but why is it that we – I finally get to an age that someone maybe made fun of us “Oh, why are you so colorful, you’re dressed like a little kid” and then we’ve adapted this way to be more mature, adult-like, which is throwing away our joy and our fun, and then we’ve carried that throughout the rest of lives. And when I think about those old ladies who are so joyful and happy, they’re always wearing bright colors, so it’s like “Let’s put 2 and 2 together, there’s definitely a correlation happening here!”
Definitely, I couldn’t agree more!
Yes! So, so many great tips and I know that you’ve created a company called Blu Blox, which is a Blue Blocker Glass company, which I’m absolutely obsessed with! You guys have so much science-based research to show that this actually works, because a lot of these blue-blocker companies, they’re red lens but they’re not actually doing the work.
So, can you share a little bit about Blu Blox?
Of course, yeah! Thank you! It became very clear to me about 4 years ago when I started utilizing blue light blocking glasses that they weren’t blocking in line with what the academic literature was saying. I’m a very scientific person, people are probably getting to notice from this Podcast, but I basically took 10 pairs of these red lens, orange lens glasses, from various companies, and I have a friend in an optics lab, so we could test them in line with what they were actually blocking, and every single pair weren’t blocking all of the blue light. And the brain only needs a small amount of blue light to tell your body that it’s not time to go to bed and keep your cortisol levels high. So, I said to them, I said “Look, I want you to create a pair of glasses that people can wear after sunset, that block exactly 400-550 nanometers, people don’t need to worry too much about that. It’s basically 100% of blue light and about 80% of green light, in line with the literature, to help people sleep”, and they looked at me like I was crazy, but they did it because we were friends. And we created this product, we got maybe 20 or 30 prototypes. And I started to send them out to people in various, sort of, health and well-being communities that really, were already wearing blue light glasses, but I wanted to give them the sciences why I thought ours were better. In the US, there was a couple of people, A.C. Phillips, for instance, Expanded Podcast, he’s really cool over there in the US; Luke Story in LA, I think he’s in now in Texas or something like that.
He’s engaged to my best friend!
Is he? Amazing! Oh, that’s fantastic! And they came back to us like, all 20-25-30 of these people just said “You guys have got something here, we’d love to help, support and promote the brand”. And we didn’t have a brand at the time, these were just prototypes we were sending out. So, we created this company that would only release evidence back to light management products, so we got three different pairs of glasses, we got these yellow ones, which are in the day, which boost your mood during winter months; we’ve got these ones that are almost clear, that you wear at your computer to help filter down some of the blue light, so you’re not getting so much eye damage; and then, then we even did the red ones which are the ones you put on after sunset, which everyone is obsessed with. And then we just decided to go even further and we created like a sleep mask that blocks 100% of light because so many sleep masks out there were letting in light from above and the sides and things. We got these adjustable eye cups that you can put around your face and they are great for meditation, great for people who are perhaps on night shifts, that perhaps need to sleep during the day. Then we created light bulbs that didn’t flicker and didn’t emit blue light, so we manages to make these loomy light bulbs which people, now, always put around the house at night. And then we moved into red light therapy as well, because red light, in isolation, is so healing, and so we harnessed some very specific frequencies, visible and invisible red and infrared lights, which were shown in a lot of the literature to help heal thyroid issues and help boost collagen in the skin, defies wrinkles, anti-ageing effects and help with muscle repair, and psoriasis and also arthritis and things like that. So, we became this whole – where we started with blue light, we actually came into this whole, amazing, sort of, light management company all backed by science, and we’ve just managed to grow so big outside of Australia. And 70% of our customers are now in the US and it’s amazing that you guys always seem to be the first adopters of these amazing new principles. And we’re just slowly building up in Australia now and the rest of the world, but, we’ve changed so many people’s lives and it’s been a really interesting journey, because what I hate is when people get a concept from a trend, they buy rubbish from overseas and then they try and sell people something that doesn’t really work and that really annoys me. And I want to be able to help people, I’ve always wanted to help people, throughout my life, and that’s why we created Blu Blox, because we wanted to create something in Australia, have it made in Australia under Optics Lab conditions, the best materials, with the best science, and then educating people and coming on amazing shows like yours and trying to educate people to empower themselves to not waste their money on brands that perhaps didn’t have science or to give them the power to be able to ask the right questions, if they wanted to look into light management from any company not just Blu Blox, but just have the right questions at hand to be able to pick the best products for them, and just really change their lives for the better and just feel like they’re meant to, which is just really balanced and grounded. And light is such a big, big factor when it to feeling your best self.
I love that so much! And all of these products are so needed right now when we’re spending more time on our screens than ever before, especially with, kind of, this continued quarantine that we’re still in, that so many people are, instead of going out and meeting with people in person, are doing it over Zoom and having these long Zoom sessions or working the entire day, one meeting after the next. And we need to figure out a way for this to not disrupt our hormones and our well-being, and to create a way to work hand-in-hand with technology because it’s not going anywhere. So, I love that you created all these products and red light therapy is something that I’ve also been very curious about, I’ve never tried it before, but it’s definitely something that I’ve seen so many people do, especially in places that are cloudy or long winters etc. and it’s been very helpful. I’ve also heard it’s very good for your skin, which is really cool as well!
So, I’m so excited because we have a special discount for Highest Self Podcast listeners! So, if you head over to blublox.com/sahara you will get 15% OFF your items there! I highly recommend checking out all of the different glasses they have, it’s so cool that you guys are customizing it for specific types of light. I’ve really never seen anyone do that before and it’s really so needed because, yeah, it’s going to be very different if you’re on your computer screen vs. at the airport or doing all these different things with different light exposure, so I love that! People can buy what they actually need and have a pair, even just one pair, just the standard pair, to support them throughout everything that they do.
If you were to say one pair, if people were to choose, which one should they get?
I think it’s a tough question and I always say please email us, come through the website and drop us an email and tell us about your light situation, what you’re feeling and what you’re looking to achieve and then we can recommend one product that will be the best for that person. I always hate to generalize because someone that has Seasonal Affective Disorder, I say get the yellow lenses; someone that really has trouble with insomnia, I’d say get the red lenses; someone that gets migraines, headaches during the day, I’d say clear lenses.
So, I know it doesn’t really answer the question but I’d love for people, just to, sort of, reach out to us and say “I’ve heard your podcast, I heard Sahara talk about Blu Blox, I’d love to tell you a bit about my light environment so you could help me”, And we have a team of people that know as much as I do about light and will say “Right, this is what you need to do”, and they’ll also provide free tips to people that message us as well, on some hacks that they use too. So, I think that, yeah, they’re probably best having a chat with us about that so we can consult with them and make sure they pick out the right pair for them.
I love that so much! And that’s really what’s so cool about your brand is that, it is so customizable. And that’s what I love about all forms of wellness like Ayurveda and all of these things that we can really customize for us because there is no one-size-fits-all answer and it’s so cool that people can actually chat and see what they need and just receive that level of service, that’s super-rare in today’s world.
So, thank you for creating this amazing product! I’m so excited to try more different ones! I absolutely love the one that I have, I highly recommend it for everyone!
And thank you for all of the wisdom that you’ve shared with us, it’s definitely making me really want to go outside, watch that morning sun and do my morning sun-gazing and get that practice started again because it was the best I ever felt when I was doing that!
So good! You’ll feel absolutely amazing and I mean, you’re already doing a lot of this stuff anyway, so you’re one of the enlightened ones! And just this huge, huge thank you for letting me come onto your show and talk to your amazing community and your beautiful self as well, it’s been so good to be able to impart some of the knowledge that I’ve learned along the way. And even if we help just one person from this conversation, I just feel the work’s done. So honored to be able to do this today!
Aww, thank you so much for being on today.
[56:20] End of Interview
How jam-packed and informational was that Episode! I was so excited! The moment I finished recording this, I’m like “Blu Blox on, changing my lights, changing everything in my life!” I’ve been going outside, getting that sunlight first thing in the morning and I swear, I feel so much better!
So, if you want to get your hands on some Blu Blox glasses head over to blublox.com/sahara and use code ‘Sahara’ for 15% OFF your order. Again, that’s blublox.com/sahara for 15% OFF your order, and you can find that link in the show notes.
Thank you so much for listening today and I’ll see you in the next one. Namaste.
Episode 379: How The Light Affects Your Mood with Andy Mant
By Sahara Rose