How can you text a migraine? Well, you can’t, however, the blue light your phone emits, when you’re texting a friend sends information to your eyes which can cause or worsen migraines. Blue light is not just from our phones, it comes from multiple sources including things we use every day like LED TVs, tablets, even the sun. Every time we are exposed to excessive sunlight, watch a movie on an LED TV, or use our phones without the blue light filter there is a chance it could set off a migraine.
The question is… Why? Why is this ever-present, seemingly necessary kind of light such a potential hazard to those of us who get migraines?
According to researchers, there is a specific neural pathway from the eyes to the brain that causes blue light wavelengths to make migraine pain and any other migraine symptoms worse. The light wavelength that has the most effect is 480nm. So exposure to blue light with a wavelength of 480nm can cause more pain and discomfort, throbbing and even makes the headache spread. ( Study* )
Blue light, compared to other light colors, has a shorter and stronger wavelength and the receptors in the eyes do not respond well to this particular wavelength. You can learn more about how to counter light sensitivity when you have a migraine here.
Blue light, emitted by electronic devices we use, also can disrupt our sleep patterns at night. The flickering blue light, which is emitted from many devices is found, in particular, to cause sleep disruption as well as eye strain. This flickering effect in and off itself has been found to trigger migraines and eye problems. This combination of eye strain and sleep disruption is what makes blue light problematic to migraine sufferers.
A study was published in nature neuroscience about an experiment that was conducted on two sets of blind human patients who suffered from migraines. The first set was completely blind and could not see images or sense light; and the second set were considered legally blind so they could not see images but could detect light.
The migraines of those who were completely blind did not get worse, when exposed to blue light however the migraines of those who were only legally blind and able to detect light worsened. (Study 2). Here are what you should and shouldn't do when you have migraine.
Here are a few tips to avoid blue light so that you can hopefully reduce the number and severity of migraine episodes you have.
Screen Cover for Computers
Covering the screen of your computer with an anti-blue light screen protector can help to reduce the effects of blue light as these screens absorb the light rays allowing you to view the screen with no problems.
There are similar screen covers for phones and other devices as well.
This idea was developed by NASA to help astronauts perform their duties under certain conditions and work wonders for migraine sufferers. These are usually orange in color and work effectively to block blue light rays thus reducing the risk of migraines and helping you to sleep better.
Utilize the blue light filter on your phone and other devices
Most (if not all) smartphones give you the option to get rid of or tone down the blue light on your phone screen and it’s quite simple to do.
If you drag the menu from the top of your phone screen you will see a little box with a ‘B’ in it. That button gives you the option to filter out the blue light giving a softer, less harmful effect.
Avoid devices at least three hours before bed.
If for whatever reason you cannot or decide not to use the blue light filter on your devices it is best that you avoid using them for at least three hours before going to sleep. Blue light ruins sleep schedules by disrupting melatonin (the main hormone that makes you fall asleep) and if you are not getting enough sleep you may be putting yourself at risk for migraines.
Ever wake up with a headache wondering how that’s possible when you got 10 hours sleep? While insufficient sleep can play a large part in triggering migraines so can too much sleep. Research shows that about half of all migraines occur in the morning before 9 am. These are called awakening headaches and are linked to poor sleeping patterns.
The aim is to find the balance. Make sure you get enough sleep each night so that you feel refreshed but not groggy.
Although migraines can be tough to deal with, there is hope. There are things we can do to help to prevent migraines and reduce their severity. Try some of the things mentioned if you are not already and see how your migraines respond.