[Transcript] – How Modern Lighting Can Destroy Your Sleep, Your Eyes & Your Health (& What You Can Do About It).

Affiliate Disclosure


Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2017/02/what-is-the-healthiest-lighting/

[0:00] Introduction

[4:26] Alexander Wunsch

[7:22] What Makes A Light an LED Light

[16:32] The Biggest Sources of LED Lighting

[19:44] The Issue With Flickering

[32:32] Blue Light and LEDs

[40:59] Quick Commercial Break/The Art of Charm Podcast

[43:27] GainesWave

[45:14] ZipRecruiter

[46:24] Continuation/Infrared and Blue Light

[53:20] Healthy LED Bulbs

[58:52] What Kind of Light Bulb Should Be Used

[1:10:56] Computer Monitor Suggestions

[1:17:51] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, everybody.  What's up?  It's me, Ben Greenfield.  Fittingly enough, I am actually sitting in a tiny little hotel room.  Well, it's not that tiny, it's big enough for me, my lanky 6'2″ frame, and I'm wearing my Aviator sunglasses.  It's night.  I'm wearing my sunglasses at night.  I'm wearing Aviators, fittingly enough, because I'm trying to block all the nasty cancer causing blue light coming from all areas of the hotel, and I forgot my blue light blocking glasses.  So, yeah.  I'm the dude in his undies wearing Aviators in his hotel room recording this for you.  But life goes way beyond Aviators and underwear.  For example, turmeric.  Turmeric is a spice, you've probably heard of it, it makes anything that you blend it with more absorbable.  Like I'll take turmeric and blend it with black pepper and ghee, or coconut oil, and anything else that I want to be really well absorbed when I blend it with the turmeric.

Well there is this company, they're called Organifi Green Juice, and what they did was they took basically every superfood on the face of the planet, and then blended it with turmeric to concentrating gradients.  And then there's also lemon in there, which is citric acid, which also concentrates the ingredients, and it all comes in this fancy little green juice powder that you don't even have to get out a juicer to make.  No clean up, no mess, probably the best yet, you get 20% off at bengreenfieldfitness.com/FitLife.  That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/FitLife, and then you use code, discount code Ben.  That's going to save you 20% off, and you too can have your turmeric mixed with a crap load of other stuff.

This podcast is also brought you by something I punished last night, called a battle rope.  So one of my go-to workouts is I've got my stationary bike set up for what are called Tabata sets where you go 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy for four minutes.  I set the battle rope next to that, and I'll do one Tabata set on the bike for the lower body, and then I one Tabata set on the battle rope for the upper body.  The problem with a lot of battle ropes is they're made out of Manila, and Manila rots, and retains water, and it can store like MRSA and all sorts of other nasty stuff that will eat off your skin.  So this company, Onnit, their battle ropes are made with polypropylene.  So they can withstand the rigors of a shipyard, in case you decide you want to go off and be a sailor with your battle rope, and the ends get wrapped with this special tape for grip support, they work super well.  And anything from Onnit, including their battle ropes, their maces, their kettlebells, their emulsified oils of life, you can get over at onnit.com, and you actually go onnit.com/Ben10, and when you go to onnit.com/Ben10, that will give you a nice fat discount code.  Alright.  let's go talk more about why I'm wearing Aviators, shall we?

In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness show:

“For this reason, we are insensitive, we cannot perceive the differences which are presented to us by modern technology.”  “The mere infrared lights helped our system on the level of mitochondria, on the level of blood circulation, from the energetic level, and the anti-oxidant level to compensate for the stress which is caused by the short-wave length.”

Ben:  Hey, folks.  It's Ben Greenfield, and as you probably know, light kind of sort of impacts things like your sleep, and your exercise, and your health.  And in today's show, we're going to delve into a specific form of light that you find all over the place, something called light emitting diodes, or LED.  And frankly, most folks are completely unaware of the hidden dangers of LED lights.  I mean we're talking like cataracts, and blindness, and macular degeneration, and mitochondrial dysfunction, and disrupted circadian biology, sleep, in some cases increased risk for cancer.  And the weird thing is that LEDs are found all over the place, like traffic lights, and traffic signals, and aircraft cockpits.  We find them in things like night vision goggles, in glow sticks, in many cases in like automotive headlamps, and advertising signs, and camera flashes, and lighted wallpaper, and a lot of these new forms of lighting that people are using in their homes.  It's all over the place and my guest on today's show knows a lot about it.  His name is Dr. Alexander Wunsch.  He's a physician, he's a researcher, he's a lecturer, and he specifically is extremely well-versed in light medicine, and in photobiology, and in the impact of light on the human body, whether that's solar radiation, or artificial light, or LED light, or any of the things that we will be delving into today.  So he has a private medical practice in Heidelberg, and you will know in just a moment that he is in Heidelberg because he has a wonderful accent.  It's a German accent, right Dr. Wunsch?

Dr. Wunsch:  Yes.  You are right, Ben.

Ben:  Okay, good.  Well, I'm sure that if we have any trouble I will jump in because I speak German fluently.  No, I'm just kidding.  I'll just make sure that I turn up the gain on your sound really loud so everybody can understand everything you say.  But anyways, Dr. Wunsch in his medical practice in Heidelberg actually uses therapeutic light in combination with some other treatments for medical purposes.  So he uses light for healing and doesn't just believe that all light is bad, or that you should just walk around with a giant candle or torch all the time.  He presents all over the world on this stuff.  He's a consultant for federal authorities, for media, for the general industry when it comes to lighting and some of the health associated topics on lighting that we're going to dive into today.  So Dr. Wunsch, welcome to the show, man.

Dr. Wunsch:  Hi.  I'm glad to be here.

Ben:  Yeah.  I'm glad you're here because I have a ton of questions for you about light.  And really the main thing I wanted to delve into today was like LED light because that's one that I know it can be a huge issue when it comes to health.  And so my first question for you is how do you define LED light?  Like what makes a light an LED light?

Dr. Wunsch:  So in principle, we have two different qualities of light in our environment.  I make the division between so-called thermal light sources where the light comes out of heat and the non-thermal light sources where the light is not a side effect of heat, but is emitted or produced in a different manner.  And all the natural light sources are thermal light sources and light sources was invented during the last century, like fluorescent lighting or the LED light, they just represent a small part of the full spectrum we normally get from the natural light sources.  So the LEDs you are confronted with nowadays, again, split up into two classes, the colored LEDs on one hand and the fluorescent LEDs, the white light LEDs on the other hand.

The principle of light generation in the white light LEDs is that you have blue light LED or violet light LED inside, and fluorescent layer, the phosphorus layer comparable to what you have in fluorescent lighting.  And the fluorescent layer transforms part of the short wavelength light into longer wavelengths like green, or yellow, or orange, and this combines with the primary light source, with the blue light, to kind of whitish light wavelengths present in comparison to what we normally have in our sunlight for example, also in light emitted by incandescent lamps.

Ben:  Okay.  So let's see if I understand this correctly.  So we got LED lamps as basically a digital form of light that's non-thermal.  So if you look at like an incandescent light bulb or a halogen light bulb, those would be like analog lights, not digital, and heat-based thermal light sources.  But then for an LED light, because they're like a digital form of light that's a non-thermal form of light, they tend to operate in a different way.  And correct me if I'm wrong, but it isn't this why like old TVs used to flicker?  Like the old school TVs, like LED lights, or like old monitors, or even new monitors now, they flicker because LEDs lighting, in order to be perceived by the eyes, has to be constantly switching between like these red, and green, and blue forms that you just highlighted?

Dr. Wunsch:  Discrimination, analogous versus digital lighting is another issue.  I just was talking about spectral composition, but in a way you also could say its analogous composition in natural light sources because all the spectrum wavelengths are present, so you have no sharp rise or decay of certain wavelength like as you have it, for example, in fluorescent lamps or some LED lamps, the digital properties, they come from the electrical ballast you need in order to operate the LEDs.  And LEDs is a very swift photon emitter, which means you can switch it on immediately and can switch it off immediately.  When you think of the filament in an incandescent lamp, it's kind of lazy.  If you switch it on it will take a short while until it produces the full intensity.  And after you've switched it off, there will be a kind of afterglow in the tungsten filament.  So there is a kind of dampening in the incandescent lamp, and in the LED, you have no delay.  So if you are using dirty electricity, as we do when we use the electricity from the main grid, we have frequencies hidden in the electricity, 60 Hz in the United States, 50 Hz in Europe, and these frequencies, they will show up in the photon stream of your light source.

Ben:  Okay.

Dr. Wunsch:  But there will only be the weak modulation when we talk about incandescent lamps due to the laziness of the tungsten filament.  But there will probably, very sharp rises and decays in case of a solid state light source like an LED.  So the digital aspect comes, or enters the stage when we talk about dimming, for example, because LEDs are dimmed in a different way compared to the incandescent lamps.  So we have two aspects of unnatural behavior in the case of LEDs.  One is the chopped, or uneven, or unharmonious spectral.  And the other thing is how they are driven electronically and how are they dimmed.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  So basically the LEDs, in order to fully switch on and fully switch off, they're actually doing that over, and over, and over again when they're on, and that's the frequency.  Even if we're like staring at an LED-based screen, our eyes might not be able to actually consciously see, like we don't notice the screen flicker unless we're kind of filming a screen with an iPhone camera or something like that, but our bodies are still able to perceive that flicker.  And it's the flicker that tends to be, the flicker along with the Hertz, I believe you said it's like a 40 to 60 Hz, almost like a form of dirty electricity that these LEDs produce that tend to be the two biggest issues.

Dr. Wunsch:  Right.  When you were mentioning the TV set, we think about the cathode ray TVs from 15 years ago or so.  They were kind of flicker, they represented a kind of flicker machine because this electron ray was kind of moving swiftly over the surface of the TV screen and activating fluorescent dots so they would illuminate, or would light up.  And this happens in older TVs with a frequency of 60 Hz, and this makes these older TV set flicker massively.  But after a while, people would not be aware of it anymore because our system, our brain adapts to this flicker activity.  And when you have to sit in front of an old cathode ray computer display, nowadays you will immediately feel the flicker, you will become aware of it, because in the meantime sitting in front of the modern displays, your system remove the filters which have been built up before as long as you have to work on this cathode ray displays.  And this is the problem that we have a kind of an automatic filter adaptation flicker incidence.  It will become unconscious, but our brain has to work constantly to remove this flicker from the vision field from what you become aware of and this is an additional bet.

Ben:  Now what about those of us who don't have the old TVs that you'd find in homes with little rabbit antennas on top of them.  I mean obviously people have like Smart TVs now, and in many cases like flicker free TVs.  What kind of things are in people's homes right now, like living in this modern era, are the biggest sources of LED lighting?

Dr. Wunsch:  The generalizing sources.  In the meantime, I think it's unfashionable to use to fluorescent light, fluorescent lamps anymore because they contain toxic substances like mercury as an example.  And in the meantime, in Europe for example, the incandescent lamps are banned.  You can purchase them only via eBay, but you cannot get them in the store.  So people have to use the LEDs.  And general lighting purposes LEDs, the white light LEDs, the replacement LEDs which can be used instead of the incandescent lamps, a lot of them will flicker massively.  So I think these are the main sources…

Ben:  But what about things that we look at, from phones, to Kindles, to monitors, to televisions?  Are any of these using LEDs?

Dr. Wunsch:  I measured my tablet, PC, for example, I measured my smartphone, there are brands which provide a flicker-free display, and other brands, they have the tendency to flicker as well.  And a lot of models, talking about TV sets, talking about computer screens, they still flicker, especially when they are dimmed, you reduce the brightness, a lot of these appliances start to flicker.

Ben:  Yeah.  That's a problem, I think, with, sorry to interrupt, but a lot of these programs people are using, like the Flux app to reduce the blue light on a screen, or reducing the brightness on your computer monitor, on your television so that you don't get as much blue light produced, or even turning down the brightness level on your iPhone, a lot of this actually increases, from what I understand, a flicker, unless it's done in a different way.  I interviewed a guy on my podcast a few months ago about how our computer monitors are kind of slowly killing our eyes, and I'll put a link to that.  By the way, for those of you who are listening in, this is all over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/lighthealth.  That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/lighthealth.  And in that podcast, Dr. Wunsch, we talked about, for example, like one piece of software called Iristech, and that's what I have and I bought one of these flicker free monitors, but then I also have the Iristech on it to actually reduce the temperature and the brightness without introducing the flicker.  But it sounds to me like what you're saying is that some of these LED-based light bulbs, as well as some of the monitors, etc. that you can decrease brightness on, what you're doing is decreasing the brightness and you're increasing the flickering, and I want to ask you about, in a little bit, about light bulbs and options that don't do that, but why is the flickering such an issue?

Dr. Wunsch:  I kind of mentioned it already, your brain has to filter it out, and this takes some from the processor activity, talking in computer language.  If you have in the background processes which have nothing to do with your outer environment, then it takes calculation power from your system.  And filtering out the flicker from a light source is hard work for the brain, to keep the picture stable is hard work for the brain, and it's a stressor, it's an unnecessary unnatural stressor which is introduced by these modern devices.

Ben:  Has it ever been proven by science that flicker is actually damaging from a biological standpoint?

Dr. Wunsch:  There is a scientific discussion since more than 6 years about that.  And the industry, on one hand, would like to have no regulation of flicker and even tries to eliminate any standardization with regard to flicker.  On the other hand, we have medical reports, there is a good number of papers around which have been published since many years.  And for example, for the working committee of the International Society for Lighting, there is a recommendation to use frequencies above 1600 Hz or better, 2 KHz, or 2000 Hz, in order to avoid all the negative effects on vision for example.  We know from the sick building syndrome that some of the symptoms, headache, eyestrain, even muscular strain in the neck and shoulder area can result from flicker.  Because when your system automatically tries to eliminate this from your awareness, and there are different strategies to do that depending on the frequency which has to be eliminated.  For example, if you're able to move your eyeball very fast and swiftly, then you can see the so-called phantom array effect if you are looking at a flickering light source from small dimension.  Maybe you have seen this on the backlighting of a [0:22:46] ______ at night.  Some of the backlight LEDs and they are pulsed LEDs, and if you are moving your eye ball very swiftly, you will see some copies of one and the same light source in the moment you are moving your eye ball.

Ben:  And you see that where?

Dr. Wunsch:  For example, in cars, the backlights of cars.

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  Like the brake lights of cars.  And from what I understand, the headlights of cars and also traffic lights, you tend to see a lot of this, right?

Dr. Wunsch:  You can see it in headlights, LED headlights in the meantime as well.

Ben:  I think that's why blue light blocking glasses are actually discouraged for driving because you actually produce more of your natural melatonin.  You get less of that, that kind of like eye stimulus and you get sleepy and fatigued if you're driving.  I don't know if you've ever tried this, Dr. Wunsch, like driving with blue light blocking glasses on, they seem to actually reduce a lot of that glare and almost like that headache in the back of your eye that you can get when like driving around LA after the sun has set when there's just like thousands and thousands of these LED lights coming at you from all directions.

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.  You're talking about the spectrum again, and this is another important issue with regards to automotive lighting at the moment.  But the flicker, the phantom array effect is kind of different.  If you look in swiftly in your car up and down, then you sometimes can see it, and this multiplication of the object of the light source is called phantom array effect.  And in order to avoid this, people tend to stop moving their eyeballs and they start moving their heads instead because the head cannot be moved as quickly or as swiftly as the eyeballs can be moved.  And if you move slower, this phantom array effect disappears, kind of disappears.  So this is one of the reasons why people can suffer from neck and shoulder strain in their muscular system because due to the flickering lights, they change their habit with regard to vision.

Ben:  Right.  So this would be kind of effect of like if you go to a rave, not that everybody listening in is like taking copious amounts of ecstasy and hanging out in Las Vegas nightclubs, but let's just say you were at a rave and there were glow sticks all over the place.  When the glow sticks are held all by themselves, it's like a solid color, but once you start to wave the glow sticks all over the place, they produce like this, almost like a blur when you wave them about in motion.  And by the way, glow sticks are LED-based from what I understand.  And so what you're saying is as our heads have to work so hard and our eyes have to work so hard to detect the flicker at those rates, something kind of similar is happening when we're driving in our cars or we're looking at traffic lights where we're seeing the flicker on a screen or something like that.  It's kind of like a subconscious overworking of a lot of the head in the neck muscles because the eyes simply can't keep up with that rapid rate of flickering?

Dr. Wunsch:  One strategy can be to set some filters up to the frequency of 250 Hz, for example.  Our brain is able to filter out the flicker from your visual awareness, which does not mean that the flicker is not there anymore, but our brain behaves somewhat like the camera of your smartphone.  The camera of your smartphone has an algorithm which detects the frequency of flickering light and then changes to a different shutter frequently for the camera so that it illuminates the stripes moving through the picture.  Normally if you're in some films, you can see if you're filming a display, if you're filming a TV set, you see some stripes moving through the picture.  And you can reproduce this when you have a definitely flickering light source and you get close with the camera of your smartphone, you will see an effect which shows you that the light source is flickering.  But when you remove the camera, if you increase the distance to the light source so that you have other objects in the scene as well, the camera algorithm detects the frequency of the flicker and changes the shutter frequency in order to avoid these optical interferences.

So the camera always tries to give you a steady picture.  And our brain does the same.  Our brain makes an automatic white balance procedure, calibration.  Our brain, our eye does exactly the same.  The camera tries to remove an unsteady picture, our brain does exactly the same.  And so we cannot rely on our brain and on our eyes with regard to flicker or spectra distribution differences between the artificial light sources and the natural light sources.  Because during the course of evolution, our organism always tries to save calculation power to be maximally efficient.  So during the course of evolution, it was absolutely sufficient for our system, for the human body to extrapolate with regard to the color from the three different types of cone.  One cone for the red on the long wavelengths part of the spectrum, one cone type for the short wavelength part of the spectrum for the blue and the violet, and one type of cone for the medium wavelength for green.

Ben:  Those are the three type of cones that we have in our eyes?

Dr. Wunsch:  And these are the cones we have for the trichromatic vision, and this was enough.  We didn't need any more cones because our eye was able to reproduce or to give us the impression of the full rainbow spectrum.  But we didn't have these kind of light sources in the past.  We only had continuous light sources.  So our system could rely on the fact that if you had a certain intensity in the green, this would automatically be linked to a certain intensity between green and red, for example.  So there was a natural logic which was hidden in the natural light sources, and our system adapted to this natural logic.  And therefore, for this reason we are insensitive, we cannot perceive the differences which are presented to us by modern technology.  And so, yeah?

Ben:  Oh, go ahead and finish up what you were saying.

Dr. Wunsch:  And so we have the problem that the industrial product are cheating our system in a way that they tell our system one thing, but they cannot fulfill what they are promising on the other hand because all these natural light sources, the non-thermal light sources, rely on our innate ability to make a discrimination between the different qualities of light.

Ben:  That makes sense.  There's this idea too, from what I understand, behind specifically the blue light in the LEDs.  And what I wanted to ask you about when it comes to the blue light, because we've talked a lot about the flicker and this flicker effect is how the blue light is, from I understand more concentrated, when it comes to LEDs.  Can you explain why it is that blue light would be something that is a bigger issue when it comes to LED sources?  And then if you can, I'd also be curious if you could explain why it is that that would actually cause damage.  From what I understand, it has something to do with reactive oxygen species or damage to the retina.  But can you help us understand why is it that it produce more blue light and what the blue light's actually doing?

Dr. Wunsch:  So the first question, why do LEDs produce more blue light, because the primary light source in white light LEDs is a blue LED, and maybe you know that there are different appearances in white.  We have warm white, we have neutral white, we have cold white light.  And the difference comes from different amounts of short wavelengths in the spectrum.  And when we look at natural light sources, then we have two basic types of natural light sources, one is the sunlight and the other is fire.  And fire is shifted, the spectral balance of fire is shifted to the red and the spectrum balance of sunlight is more or less in the middle of the spectrum, around green.  But when we look at the color of the sky, then the spectrum is definitely shifted to the blue part, the short wavelength part of the spectrum.  And our organism has learned throughout the course of evolution that there are different, basically different physiological effects to expect from daylight and nighttime, daytime and nighttime illumination.  For example, when I would ask you which kind of natural light quality is a higher risk in terms of cardiovascular activity, in terms of metabolic activity in your organism, and all the vital functions of your organism, would it be the sunlight or would it be the fire?

Ben:  I would imagine when it comes to the potential for deleterious effects long term, it would be the sunlight, if you're excessively exposed.

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.  Not only long term.  Just imagine, you were talking about Las Vegas, didn't you?

Ben:  Yeah.

Dr. Wunsch:  And some rave parties there.  If you would have to leave the hotel there, maybe, even naked make it during noon time…

Ben:  If you just walk down the streets of Las Vegas naked at noon time, that you actually would not get any strange glances at all.

Dr. Wunsch:  This is not what I or would recommend, but if you're driving down to the Hoover Dam and step aside from the road, then you would experience very quickly a deleterious situation would come up if you would have no protection from sunlight.

Ben:  Right.  You're not saying sunlight is bad, what you're saying is excessive exposure to sunlight, let's say if we were to stay out in Las Vegas in the heat of the sun from 10 AM until 4 PM, just staring at the sun and laying out in the sun, we'd get exposed to the same amount of reactive oxygen species that we'd get from, say, the concentrated amounts of blue light in something like LED lights.  And the issue is that LED lights, in many cases, we're getting exposed to those all over the place even after sunset.

Dr. Wunsch:  I'm saying that blue light is the main signal for our vision and non-vision system to find out if it is day or night.   Because under natural conditions, blue light [0:36:36] ______ during the day.  And the more blue light there, the more sunlight comes along.  So blue light is an indicator for the amount of sunlight under natural conditions.  And the light we had, in our case, or we had at night did never contain any blue, or significant amounts of blue.  We had a fire for hundreds of thousands of years during the night time.  And the problem is that we are able to produce artificial light with significant amount of blue, which signals our system that it's in the middle of the day, but not nighttime situation.

Ben:  Right.

Dr. Wunsch:  So the blue light plays an outstanding role in terms of circadian signaling.

Ben:  Yeah.  It's what we would call, you call it, I guess this would be a word you'd use over in Germany right, a zeitgeist.  It's like exercise and food…

Dr. Wunsch:  Zeitgeber.

Ben:  What'd you call it?

Dr. Wunsch:  Zeitgeber.  Zeitgeber.

Ben:  Yeah.  Zeitgeber.  Exercise, and food, and movement, and then light.  At 2 AM last night, I just got in from Los Angeles.  And this morning, prior to our podcast interview, because it's in the morning, I was actually using pretty intense blue light.  And in one case, an LED headset, both in my ears, using something called a HumanCharger, and in my eyes, using something called a ReTimer, and those are certainly not anything I'd go near in the evening, unless of course I wanted to stay up really late and was trying to hack my ability to be able to stay out late at a function, or a party, or a social event.  But ultimately, the blue light, you're not saying all blue light is bad.  What you're saying is that blue light is something that is used as a cue for daytime or nighttime and that LED can completely disrupt that function due to the very concentrated amounts of blue light it's capable of producing.

Dr. Wunsch:  But there's another issue with the LEDs.  If you have a high amount of blue light from sunlight or the sky in nature, then you also have other parts in the spectrum, the invisible part in the near infrared, which is the spectra part longer wavelengths than red.  Near infrared is always present in daylight, in sunlight, it makes up to 43% of the total amount of radiation energy in sunlight.  And you were talking about the reactive oxygen species, the oxidative effect of the short wavelengths already, and in natural light we have a compensating part which is always present, and this is the red and the near infrared.  So the blue light under the sun is never a solitary event.  It's always combined with the radiation part which is restoring and regenerative.  And if you are using high intensity of blue light from an LED, the problem is not that it would have the same intensity compared to sunlight, but there is no compensation radiation contained in the blue light from an LED.

Ben:  Because the LEDs don't produce any light from the near infrared, that thermal spectrum that you we're talking about early on in the podcast.  So near infrared is totally missing in a non-thermal artificial light source, like the LED.  And that's one of the biggest issues with the infrared not being there.

Music Plays…

Ben:  Hey, folks.  It's Ben Greenfield and as you may, or may not know, one of the best athletes on the face of the planet, the Michael Jordan of skateboarding, and a guy who's a real icon especially in the extreme sports industry, is Tony Hawk.  My friend Jordan Harbinger of The Art of Charm podcast recently had the opportunity to interview Tony, which is actually a pretty rare treat and I actually got Jordan on the show to share with you a few key takeaways that he got from Tony during that show.  So Jordan what did Tony share with you?

Jordan: Tony's an interesting guy, man.  He works a ton.  I mean, he's got everything from like backpacks, and watches, and skateboards, and video games, and he talked about why taking risks is important, how he stays healthy working all the time, and stays sane might be a better term, talks about personal branding, talks a lot about business, but also talks about why it's important to really learn everything about your craft, even if you've got a guy that handles that.  And he's a really super hard working guy, super interesting guy, really genuine guy.  And, yeah, you'd be hard pressed to find another athlete that works as hard as Tony does and also still is able to walk the walk.  You see Michael Jordan on the golf course, I'm sure he's still a great basketball player, but you still see Tony skating at benefits, and he still does it, and he still innovates, which is incredible for a guy, who's in terms of skateboarding years, he's getting up there.  I mean he's one of the OG guys.  So this interview was really, really interesting.  There was a lot of gems in here.

Ben:  Totally.  And a smart businessman too.  You see a lot of these athletes that are just good at their sport, but he's taking it to a whole different level when it comes to his brand.

Jordan:  Yeah.

Ben:  So if you're listening in and you want to check out the entire Tony Hawk episode that Jordan recorded, and Jordan records a ton of really fantastic interviews on his show, his show is called The Art of Charm and you could go to iTunes, or Stitcher, or wherever else you happen to digest podcast, and look especially at where I'd start, or I'd recommend you start is this Tony Hawk interview that Jordan recently recorded because it's chock full of really good advice, whether you're an extreme sport athlete who wants to become a professional skateboarder or not.  Check it out.  The Art of Charm Podcast.

Music Plays…

Ben:  I'm going to interrupt today's show to tell you why you don't want to take Viagra or Cialis.  Messes you up, blurs your vision.  Girls use Viagra sometimes, did you know this, to actually enhance their orgasm.  Not just guys, but in both sexes it can also cause basically what amounts to like sexual nervousness and erectile dysfunction, and there are a host of other side effects including the fact that they're processed by your liver.  So is there a way that you can get massive you-know-whats, better orgasms, bigger size, et cetera, without taking these drugs?  There is.  And I've done it.  And works.  And I'm very happy with it.  It's called GainesWave.  GainesWave.  It's this non-invasive treatment, you go in and they basically blast you with high frequency acoustic waves that open up old blood vessels and stimulate the formation of new blood vessels.  I'm going to call that vessel-genesis.  That's right.  I made that up.  That's vessel-genesis. TM.  And the results last for months.  Not just minutes, like with pills, or hours, or I guess in the case of Viagra, if it last hours, you're supposed to go to the doctor 'cause that's called a priapism, you don't get any of that nasty side effect with this stuff.

It's called GainesWave.  So it's shockwave therapy, it's been used in Europe successfully for over 15 years, and now you get 150 bucks off of any treatment from any of their clinics around the US.  Here's how: you text “Greenfield” to 313131. That's “Greenfield” to 313131.  And if you want to go get your GainesWave treatment done in the same locale I had mine done from Dr. Gaines himself, just go to Miami, Florida.  You can go to their website healthgains.com, or GainesWave.com, pick your poison, and go to Miami.  Talk to Dr. Gaines, tell ‘em I sent you, you'll get a discount.

This podcast is also brought to you by Zip Recruiter.  I'm actually building my business bigger right now.  I'm doing it.  I'm putting on the big boy pants with my business.  We're like rebranding, doing all sorts of cool behind the scenes stuff.  We'll be able to open the kimono soon.  That's just a nasty analogy.  Reminds me of some creeper walking down the street with her kimono open.  Anyways, I digress.  So there is this company where you can post your job, and then they take that one job posting and just blast it to 200 plus other job sites, like Facebook and Twitter, and then you get this special dashboard that allows you to screen all the candidates that roll in, rate them, and hire them fast without wasting all your time trying to find these quality candidates for your position.  Now this company is called Zup, Zip, Zup, Zat, Zip, ZipRecruiter.  ZipRecruiter.  And if you go to ZipRecruiter.com/first, you get to try the whole thing for free.  So that's ZipRecruiter.com/first and you can hire anybody fast and easy.  For free.  ZipRecruiter.com/first.  You get that?  Alright, back to today's show.

Music Plays…

Ben:  From a biological standpoint, is it that infrared is somehow protecting us from some of the effects of blue light?  Is there some kind of mitochondrial effect of the exposure to infrared?  Or what is it about the infrared being present that makes the blue light, when the infrared is around, less of an issue?

Dr. Wunsch:  It acts as a primer.  When you look at the natural cause of spectral variation of daylight, the first radiation which is present during the sunrise is red and near infrared, and this is able to help mitochondria to build up antioxidant substances which are needed when the shorter wavelengths add to the spectrum when the sun gets up.  So the near infrared lights helps our system on the level of mitochondria, on the level of blood circulation, on energetic level, on the anti-oxidant level to compensate for the stress which is caused by the short wavelength.

Ben:  It's so crazy how nature works like that.  So basically if the sun were only emitting blue light as an LED would, that blue light wave spectrum would cause the production of reactive oxygen species and some amount of damage to both the eyes as well as, if I understand correctly, other tissues in the body including the mitochondria.  But when you pair that with near infrared, which the sun also makes, then what you get is the ability to be able to buffer those reactive oxygen species and even produce additional, from what I understand when it comes to infrared, you actually target that molecule in the mitochondria, your cytochrome C oxidase molecule involved with energy production and ATP production.  And so you're not only protecting yourself when you include near infrared, but you're also activating more energy production and mitochondria health when you have infrared accompanying those lights from the blue light wave spectrum.

Dr. Wunsch:  Right.  Exactly.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.  So if somebody is unable to get out in the sunlight, for example, like right now it is dark gray outside for me, but I did use like an LED headset this morning to jumpstart my circadian rhythm and I also used bright light, like a blue-greenish light therapy on the eyes, this set of eyewear called The ReTimer, what you're saying is if I were to do something like that and I didn't have access to sunlight, I could use something like a near infrared lamp, or an infrared sauna, or something like that to at least ensure that I'm mitigating any damage that might be caused by just doing the blue light all by itself?

Dr. Wunsch:  I would recommend to look into an incandescent lamp while you're wearing this headset because it's important that the near infrared radiation comes from the same direction, or nearly the same, at least nearly the same direction.

Ben:  Okay.  You know what?  I have one of those.  It's in my office.  I use it when I work in the evenings, because in my office I have a bunch of light bulbs called Awake & Alert bulbs.  They're made by this is somebody called Lighting Science.  Have you heard of this company?

Dr. Wunsch:  No.

Ben:  Okay.  So Lighting Science makes bulbs that either have very concentrated amounts of light from either the blue light spectrum, or in the case of like their Sleepy Time bulbs for like a baby's bedroom, or for like your bedroom, nighttime bulbs that eliminate more of the light from the blue light wave spectrum.  But in my office I actually have these Lighting Science light bulbs for being awake and alert.  But at night, exactly what you've just described is what I use.  I have this near infrared incandescent bulb, it's called a RubyLux.  I just have it in a little cheapo desk lamp hanging off my desk.  So if I go into my office at night to write, if the muse strikes at night, and you can buy it on Amazon.  I want to say it's a few bucks on Amazon.  I just plug it into a light bulb, but that's what I use.  What you're saying is in the morning, if I am doing something like, let's say like blue light wave therapy, I should ensure that at the same time, kind of coming at me from the same direction, let's say if I'm working on my computer, I should have something like this RubyLux or some other form of near infrared incandescent light shining on me at the same time?

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.  If you want to act as you would if you were in nature, in nature we always have the near infrared and we sometimes have blue in addition.  And so it's a good idea, if you have blue, you always should add near infrared.  And if you have no blue, you're still advised, in a positive way, to have the near infrared.  Because under natural conditions, the near infrared is always there.  And it helps in our retina, for example, to keep up the metabolism.  Not only via the mitochondria, but also via the water molecules which make a lot of substance in our organism.  Especially in the retina, it's an issue that the transport between the photoreceptors and the capillary vessels have to bridge a long distance.  And if you activate the water molecules in this space, in this area, you increase the diffusion processes, you increase the metabolical exchange of substances, which is crucial for optimal function in this area of your body.

Ben:  Now are there healthy forms of LED light bulbs?  Like if you did have LED in your house and you we're going to go out and buy LEDs, are there some kind of healthier LED version?  Are things, or standards, or temperatures, or anything like that we should look for in an LED bulb if we want it to be a healthy bulb?

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.  Two answer to that question.  Of course there are healthy forms of LEDs, for example.  Amber [0:53:29] ______, amber LEDs for lighting the space during night time.  There are LEDs in use for low level light therapy, or for so-called photobiomodulation, this is more in the medical part.

Ben:  Yeah.  I have photobiomodulation, I have a photobiomodulation headset that I wear, it's called the Neuro.  It's made by a company called Vielight, and I actually wear it on my head at night because it's been shown to do things like increase nitric oxide, and alpha brain wave production, and even be used, for example, for blood flow, and activation of that thing we talked about earlier, the cytochrome C oxidase in mitochondria.  So I certainly use that but I don't have them hanging around in my house as like a light bulb.  It's just something I wear in my head at night.  But as far as like, oh, go ahead.

Dr. Wunsch:  If you want to talk about general lighting appliances, then indeed there are different qualities around.  We have so-called filament LEDs in the meantime, which resemble the appearance of a classical incandescent lamp.  Some of them flicker awfully, others do not flicker at all.  So it's important to make a choice in favor of the non-flickering types.  And you can look at the color rendering index of our eye, which gives you a coarse idea about the quality of the light source in the long wavelength part of the spectrum.  I only would recommend to use warm tone with 2,700 Kelvin color temperature or less.  And I would recommend to go for CRI values of 95 or even higher.  For example, the company which is, it's an Asian company I think in China, it's called Civilight, C-I-V-I light, Civilight, they provide LEDs for retrofits types with the color rendering index above 97.

Ben:  Those are called the, did you say C-I-V-I light?  Or…

Dr. Wunsch:  Civilight.  The company is named Civilight.

Ben:  Civilight.  Yeah.  Okay, cool.  It looks like they've got lights on Amazon.  So they make these light bulbs that are, oh, I see.  Yeah, the 2700 K is listed, for example, as the temperature on that bulb.  So that would be an example.  Oh, that's like $2.99.  So that would be an example of an acceptable bulb.

Dr. Wunsch:  Look at the CRI value first, because they also offer 80 CRI, 80 models, but you should go for the highest CRI you can get.

Ben:  Okay.  CRI stands for…

Dr. Wunsch:  CRI.  Color rendering index.

Ben:  Color rendering index.  And most light bulbs will have that listed somewhere, or you could contact the company and find out.  And what we're looking for is a CRI of, you said somewhere around 97?

Dr. Wunsch:  95 or above.

Ben:  Ninety five or above.  So that will get us as close as possible to natural light with an LED light bulb.  So we want a color temperature of somewhere in the range of like 2700-ish, and then a CRI of around 95 or higher.

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.

Ben:  Okay.  Gotcha.  And you like those Civilights.  I think those bulbs that I mentioned, by the way, because they call them, I'd love for you to take a look at them when you get a chance and let me know what you think, but they're called biological LED lights.  Like that's what's all over in my house are these biological lights, and they're made by this company LightingScience, not the Civilights.  But they, from what I understand, fall into the spectrum you've just described and also do not produce the flicker.  Now granted they're expensive, it's like 20 to 25 bucks for each of these light bulbs.  So I've got them in the main, I have them like in the gym and the office for the awake and alert ones.  And then for the night time ones, I've got them primarily in the bedroom, in the master bathroom, in my kids' room, for example.  But I think they fall into that range, they're not dimmable like these Civilights that you talked about, but those are the two main things to look at, the CRI and the temperature.

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.  This is what you can look at if you have no chance to measure the spectrum and to measure the spectral distribution in the long wavelength part.  The higher the CRI means the better the color rendering also in the red, and this gives you an idea, it's just an estimation, it's not a guarantee.  But it gives you an idea that you have higher amounts in the restorative range of the spectrum.

Ben:  And do you think that people should be using LED light bulbs rather than other forms of light bulbs?

Dr. Wunsch:  So in my house, I can count the LEDs with one hand I'm using for general lighting purposes.  I try to use, and I do use the incandescent lamps for task lighting, for example, when I read.  When I need artificial light, use incandescent light lamp light.  And I try to avoid the LEDs because none of them even with the highest color rendering index offer near infrared radiation at the moment.  So it's one thing to reduce the aggressive part, which is the case for the Civilight, for example.  But there is now the company which I could recommend, this is Soraa.

Ben:  How do you spell that?

Dr. Wunsch:  S-O-R-A-A.

Ben:  Okay.

Dr. Wunsch:  But for Soraa, it's important to operate the low voltage MR16 replacement lamps on a DC transformer.  Otherwise, those I measured would flicker massively.

Ben:  Okay.  Which would be an issue.  Those Soraa, those are LED.  Correct?

Dr. Wunsch:  LED, and it's a special technology.  They use gallium nitride, nitride on gallium nitride substrates for the production of not blue but violet light.  And this using violet in the blue light leads to a kind of broader spectrum, and also a very good color rendering index, and they also provide some significant amounts of radiation above 630 nanometers, which is kind of orange-red.  They reach into the deeper red.  And they are using a radiation which is less aggressive to the retina.

Ben:  How do you operate them on DC rather than on AC?  Is there like a switch on the actual light bulb or do you need to talk to your electrician in your house?

Dr. Wunsch:  You have to use a transformer for the 12 Volts halogen lamps and for 12 Volts halogen replacement types equipped with LEDs.  And the low voltage technology in lighting operate on 12 Volts, and there are two types of transformers, AC transformers and DC transformers.  The AC transformer has an input of 120 Volts, 60 Hz main voltage, and it has an output of 12 Volts, 60 Hz.  So there is alternating current on the secondary side of the transformer.  And the DC transformer transforms the AC, 120 Volts, 60 Hz, into 12 Volts but no alternation.  It's a plus and minus which does not change.  So you have 0 Hz in this case.  And the 0 Hz, zero flicker.

Ben:  And you would install these low voltage lighting transformers, let's say you wanted to switch, you said it's best to go with DC, and I assume that's especially with these incandescent light bulbs 'cause they produce a lot of, from what I understand, like dirty electricity and they use up a high amount of energy when you switch them to DC, you don't get a lot of that.  But in terms of the DC transformers, would you put the DC transformer in each individual lighting outlet in your home, or do you have some other method that you're using with these DC transformers, or do you literally have to just like go to every single outlet in your home and switch it to a DC transformer?

Dr. Wunsch:  It depends on the type of installation.  You might know these two ropes where you attach the light sources, and these systems can be modified easily because they are delivered with an AC transformer, and you just can replace the AC transformer by a DC transformer, and you make significant change from bad to the best.

Ben:  Okay.  Cool.  Yeah.  I have recessed cans for a lot of the lights in my home.  So some of those I might not be able to do the transformers, although I'm using some of the forms of LED light bulbs that you talked about earlier, aside from this little incandescent bulb that I have in my office, so I might not do a huge modification over and above like that the Lighting Science bulbs that I have.  But in someone who wasn't going to use like, for example, the Civilights or the Soraa light bulbs, which are the LED light bulbs that you discuss, if they're going to go for incandescent instead, you're just recommending that if they go for incandescent, they ensure that they are operating those incandescent lights on a DC current so that you're not getting all the dirty electricity you would produce if you were operating an incandescent light on an AC current.

Dr. Wunsch:  Right.  But dirty electricity is not an issue of incandescent lights.  It's the issue of all artificial light sources, including the LEDs.

Ben:  Okay.  But incandescent produces a larger amount, don't they?  I was under the impression that incandescents were just like energy hogs.

Dr. Wunsch:  They produce a lot of dirty electricity if you're using low voltage, AC driven lamps.  But an LED can produce even more dirty electricity because it transforms the sinus wave AC into a digital AC, which has a lot of overtones, a lot of higher frequencies.  It's like a center of electromagnetic waves besides the visible part of the spectrum.  So it's difficult to issue a general rule on that.  You have to measure these things.  And all electrically driven light sources which use AC currents are prone to also produce invisible radiation which can be declared as dirty electricity, and it's not a particular problem of incandescent, it's even more problem of all those lamps which need electrical ballast, or switching transformers to operate them.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Well in the show notes, what I'm going to do is I'll link in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/lighthealth some of these solutions that we've been talking about.  But ultimately, long story short is that what you're looking for is either an incandescent light or one of these approved LED lights that you talked about that could be operating on DC.  So you're going to use an AC to DC transformer.

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.  And you can get this at Amazon, for example.  Meanwell transformers are very good.  They have a high quality…

Ben:  What'd you call them?  Meanwell?

Dr. Wunsch:  Meanwell is the company.  And you always should try to use transformers which are connected with three contact, so they should be earth-linked or grounded.  For example, my Apple laptop comes with a transformer with the small plug which is good for travelling, but it only has two poles.  And this will result in the high amount of electromagnetic activity in my laptop as long as it's connected to the transformer.  As soon as I change this two pole plug into the three pole cable, which is also contained in the package, the electromagnetic activity decreases massively because the transformer then is earth-linked, or grounded, and this will reduce the dirty electricity significantly.

Ben:  You can also get laptop grounding cables, I know there's one company called LowBlueLights that does like a grounding cable you can use if your laptop has two prongs instead of three.  My laptop has three prongs, so I'm grounded with my MacBook.  But if you have one of the two prong cables for your laptop, you can use it, it's like a USB-based grounding cable, and I know that can help out a little bit.  But sounds like you're using a transformer, huh?

Dr. Wunsch:  You're using the transformer as well, don't you?  With your laptop?

Ben:  I'm not using…

Dr. Wunsch:  For charging?

Ben:  Yeah.  My laptop charging cable, for me, it's got three prongs on it.  So I'm not using a transformer.  I do have a dirty electricity filter…

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.  The charging cable, I'm talking about the charging cable.  [1:09:16] ______ transformer.

Ben:  Yeah.  That's what I'm talking about is the charging cable.  Like your Apple has two prongs, mine has three.  So…

Dr. Wunsch:  No.  Each Apple comes with a travelling plug with two prongs and cable with three prongs.

Ben:  Oh, yeah.  You're right!  You're right.  The travelling plug does have two prongs.  You know what?  I don't use the traveling plug ever.  It just gets tossed in the drawer.

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.  And this is a good idea, not to use it because if you use the three prong version, then you have with the same electrical circuitry, or electronic circuitry, you have a very good result or you have a very bad result depending on the number of prongs with the same device.

Ben:  Yeah.  I have it plugged in.  Either way, I have everything in my office plugged into these Greenwave Dirty Electricity Filters.  Like I've got those all over my house in the outlets just to cut down a little bit on the electrical pollution as well.

So I've got one other question that I wanted to ask you, and that would be like when it comes to screens.  What kind of computer screen do you use?  Because I did a lot of research on computer screens and wound up using, for example, that Iristech software that I talked about which reduces the brightness and the temperature without increasing the flicker of the screen.  And then I got, the make of my monitor, it's a Flexscan.  A Flexscan made by a company called Eizo, E-I-Z-O, and it's like a flicker-free monitor, a relatively flicker free monitor, but I'm curious if you have computer monitor suggestions for people when it comes to what you would use.

Dr. Wunsch:  Personally, I use Apple products because I measure the flicker before I buy the device.  From the very beginning, when Apple started to use LED displays, they had versions which did not flicker in the low frequency part of the [1:11:23] ______ spectrum.  So they had a kind of flicker above 10,000 Hz, or 15,000 Hz, but this is not a problem.

Ben:  So if you have an Apple computer and it’s like a newer Apple computer, it's not going to flicker?

Dr. Wunsch:  Yes.  This will not flicker.  Even if you reduce the intensity, it will flicker in a very very high frequency.  But this is not a problem for the visual system.

Ben:  You don't use an external monitor at all?  ‘Cause when I talk about using an Eizo, that's what I mean.  Like in my office, I have an external monitor.

Dr. Wunsch:  I have a 24″ cinema display which does not flicker as well.

Ben:  Who makes that cinema display that you got?  Like did you get it specifically because it doesn't flicker?

Dr. Wunsch:  I wouldn't have bought it if it would have.

Ben:  Okay.  The Cinema Displays, those are Apple right?

Dr. Wunsch:  Yeah.

Ben:  Oh, okay.  Cool.  Alright.  So just because it's made by Apple, you're getting that.  What about the Apple TVs?  Is it similar?  Are they low flicker even when you've got the brightness down?

Dr. Wunsch:  The Apple TVs?  I'm not aware of them.  It always depends on, the problem with the flicker in TV sets, TV screens is that you have in the meantime, you have a variety of setting for sports events, or theater, or other situations, and it can happen that the display will flicker in the sports event setting, and will not flicker or flicker less in some other setting.  So this is something I always try to measure.  I do not rely on any numbers, or properties, or parameters which are provided by the companies.  I always measure, because I found out that this is essential, and even, for example, the TV sets with a repetition rate, frame rate of 12000 Hz or so.  This does not guarantee that there is not another level where you have low frequency flicker still present in the display.

Ben:  Okay.  Cool.  That's good to know.  I've been taking copious notes as we've been talking about everything from light bulbs, to monitors, to some of these other resources that we've discussed during the show along with my podcast that I did with this guy about the computer monitor software, and a lot more.  So if you're listening in right now, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/lighthealth, that's bengreenfieldfitness.com/lighthealth if you want to access the show notes.

And Dr. Wunsch, do you have a blog or a website, or have you written a book or anything like that that would be useful for people to take a look at?  ‘Cause we didn't even get into how you are using things like infrared for actually healing tissue.  We talked a lot about damage and stuff, but I know you've got a lot of other things that you're up to.  So what would be the best way for people to access some of your information or your research?

Dr. Wunsch:  My Vimeo account would be a good way to access information.  I have, I think, 50 or so videos online which can be accessed for free, and a number of them are in English.  So this would be a starter.  And when I have a photo blog, but I do not maintain it on a regular basis, but there appear some entries in English as well.

Ben:  Okay.   I see that.  It's just vimeo.com/AlexanderWunsch.  That's your channel?

Dr. Wunsch:  Yes, exactly.  And there is Alexander Wunsch/Alexander Wunsch in English or so, but I could provide the link so that interested guys would come directly to this area where they find the English presentation.

Ben:  Okay.  I'll link to all this in the shown us for those you're listening in.  Again, it's going to be at bengreenfieldfitness.com/lighthealth.  Dr.  Wunsch, this is fascinating.  I definitely have a to-do list of a few little things I'm going to do around my house when it comes to my lighting practices.  And I know that folks might have questions, comments, etc.  If you're one of those people, then go to the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/lighthealth and leave any questions that you have.  And either myself, or Dr. Wunsch, or somebody will hop in and reply to you.  And I always love to see the type of comments that you have when shows like this get released as you scramble around your house replacing all the light bulbs and driving your spouse or your loved ones crazy 'cause all of a sudden you're obsessing about the TV, and the light, and your health, your longevity, your biology.  This stuff's important.  So Dr. Wunsch, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing the stuff with us, man.

Dr. Wunsch:  Thank you very much.  It was a great pleasure.

Ben:  Alright, folks.  Well until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Dr. Alexander Wunsch signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.  Have a healthy week.

Light can have a significant impact on your sleep and your health.

In today's podcast, you're going to discover the hidden dangers of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting that most people are completely unaware of, including the risk of cataracts, blindness, age-related macular degeneration, mitochondrial dysfunction, metabolic disorders, disrupted circadian biology and sleep, cancer and more.

LED light is currently used in applications as diverse as aviation lighting, automotive headlamps, advertising, general lighting, traffic signals, camera flashes, and lighted wallpaper. Large-area LED displays are used as stadium displays, dynamic decorative displays, and dynamic message signs on freeways. Thin, lightweight message displays are used at airports and railway stations, and as destination displays for trains, buses, trams, and ferries. LED's are also used in traffic lights and signals, exit signs, emergency vehicle lighting, ships' navigation lights, aircraft cockpits, brake lights, submarine and ship bridges, astronomy observatories, night vision, glowsticks and more.

My guest is Dr. Alexander Wunsch, who is a physician, researcher and lecturer in light medicine and photobiology with particular interest in light effects and beneficial or adverse health impacts of solar radiation and artificial light sources on endocrine and cellular levels in humans. He conducts studies on photobiological effects of optical (UV, VIS and IR) radiation.

In his private medical practice in Heidelberg, he uses therapeutic light spectra in combination with other biophysically based treatments and develops light equipment for medical and cosmetic purposes. He is associate lecturer at the Wismar University of Applied Sciences and mentors students in their master theses in light and health-associated topics. Alexander Wunsch presents at international conferences and operates as a consultant for federal authorities, media and industry.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-Why LED light is so much different than other forms of light, especially with regards to how it affects your biology…[7:10]

-The biggest sources of LED in your personal environment…[16:22]

-Why monitor and light bulb flickering is such a serious issue when it comes to your health…[19:35]

-How LED's (especially when used after sunset) vastly reduces the regenerative and restoring capacities of your eyes…[23:35]

-Why near infrared, which is missing from LED light, is so important for you to be exposed to…[38:45]

-What the healthiest type of lighting is to use and what should you look for when choosing a light…[53:00]

-The two parameters you must look for in a light bulb, and what numbers those parameters should be at…[54:20 & 56:20]

-Top recommendations for computer screens that don't damage your eyes…[70:15]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Ben's podcast about the Iristech software he uses with his computer monitor

The ReTimer glasses Ben mentions

The HumanCharger Ben mentions

The RubyLux incadescent lightbulb Ben has on his desk

The LightingScience lightbulbs Ben mentions

The Vielight Neuro that Ben mentions

The Civilights that Dr. Wunsch discusses

The Soraa lightbulbs that Dr. Wunsch discusses

Meanwell AC to DC transformer

LowBlueLights grounding cable

Greenwave dirty electricity filter

The Eizo Flexscan monitor that Ben uses

The Apple CinemaDisplay that Dr. Wunsch uses

Alexander's Vimeo video channel

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Alexander or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!


I have received multiple questions about the “Joovv” light that I use daily for testosterone enhancement (read more here or watch this video) – specifically whether the LED lights in the Joovv are harmful. Here is my take on that:

The guy who makes the Joovv (Scott Nelson) is a friend of mine. Before starting Joovv, he spent close to 15 years in the medical device industry (with companies like Medtronic, Covidien, Boston Scientific, etc) and worked closely with world-renowned physicians, primarily the “who's who” in the fields of interventional cardiology, interventional radiology, and cardiovascular surgery. I do know he's studied the field of photomedicine quite a bit and have learned the following in conversations with him:

-There are hundreds of published studies that point to the benefits of LLLT at specific wavelengths (both red and IR). There is a robust amount of clinical evidence that supports both red light (in the mid 600nm range) as well as IR. That's why Joovv offers the ability to add red, IR, or a combination of red/IR to their devices. So I don't *think* it's just “simple red light”.

-I asked them why LED's are used in Joovv, and they replied that you get 10x the efficiency without the heat loss, and included a graph that compares the WARP 10 device (LED-based red light) to a 250-watt heat lamp. (although way over-priced, the WARP 10 device was developed based on initial funding from NASA.)

-With that said, you can benefit from incadescent heat lamps. The first Joovv prototype utilized eight 250 watt incandescent infrared heat lamps (that tripped breakers constantly). Countless studies show that 4-5 Joules of energy is required to get noticeable benefits from red light therapy; many show treatments at more than 100 Joules. You would trip breakers and die of heat exhaustion (LOL) trying to get this from incandescent heat lamps. Their tests using irradiance meters mirror the photon flux and literally, an inch away, you are getting less than 5 mW/cm2 from these lamps because over 90% of the energy is wasted as heat. Alternatively, their Joovv devices deliver over 50mW/cm2 at 6″ way. And well over 100 mw/cm2 at an inch away. The efficiency of heat lamps is low in comparison to LEDs. So it would take 100 of these incandescent heat lamps bulbs (and more electricity than a 200 amp residential service can provide) to equal the output from their devices – not to mention the over-heating issue.

-The key with any light therapy device is consistency. And the major problem with most light therapy devices (heat lamps included) is twofold: small treatment area combined with subpar output. That's why most of these devices recommend treatment times of 20+ minutes. They designed their devices to optimize for these two gaps in the market – treatment area and power output. The “net net” is that you don't have to use teir devices very long while still receiving benefits over a large surface area. Compliance is king when it comes to light therapy – and they feel their Joovv devices help with this issue.

– Their devices emit negligible EMFs. Well below the 2 milligauss threshold.

– Regarding red light and its ability to energize mitochondrial cytochrome C oxidase – see this seminal piece: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2790317/

– If you're comparing apples to apples, the Joovv devices are under-priced. Look at other players in the space – LightStim, Baby Quasar, etc. – when you consider the treatment size and power output, their devices are priced pretty fair. I mean, the LightStim LED bed is selling for $60k (not joking). The comparable Joovv Light Max starts out at $2395.

And then there is this, from one of the lead Joovv engineers:

-Regarding the effect of LED lights on circadian rhythms, there have been many studies on the effect that different wavelengths have on the human body and how the time of day is also an important consideration (and I know you've covered this before on your podcast and blog).  I think Mercola has an article that has some interesting information surrounding the wholesale replacement of incandescent bulbs with LED lights (as our everyday light source) that probably merits further study.  


-LED lights are not necessarily problematic sources of EMF.  From the testing that I have done in multiple homes with EMF meters, the typical light switch and outlet generate more EMF than a high-quality LED transformer.  Additionally, the majority of studies that review negative effects of LEDs specify that the source of the issue is the heavy dosage of blue and green wavelengths at night that can disrupt sleep cycles.  This is consistent with what would be expected as the natural light we receive from the sun has a higher concentration of blue wavelengths in the morning and midday and then much of this is filtered out at dusk and we see a predominantly orange and red light distribution as our body prepares to rest.  Here is a great meta-analysis that helps explain these concepts – http://photobiology.info/Roberts-CR.html.  I have also seen several studies that demonstrate that red light helps with sleep quality (my teenage sons actually do their Joovv Light treatments right before bed).  Here is an example of a study showing benefits of LED-based red light for sleep quality: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3499892/.  

-Finally, I think it's important to clarify that the human body receives light, from whatever source, as a distribution of light photons at a given intensity.  Essentially, our cells don't care if the photons were created by the sun, LEDs, lasers, or incandescent bulbs; they simply respond to the wavelength and intensity of the light.  As previously stated, there is an overwhelming amount of clinical research that shows significant health benefits from red light wavelengths as well as other wavelengths.  Joovv constantly get reports from customers, some of which are MDs, that were initially skeptical but now have witnessed the healing effects of red light therapy.  

But to play devil's advocate…a physician I highly respect had this to say:

“There is no question that LEDs are far more energy efficient, that is why the government banned the incandescent.  They are energy efficient on steroids no question about that.  But you are making the same mistake as the government saying that there is all this wasted energy.

It is only wasted from the perspective of being able to provide visible light that can help you see.  BUT that “wasted” energy is primarily FULL SPECTRUM near infrared with a touch of mid infrared in the example of heat lamps as you can see by the graph I sent on the last email.  This “wasted” energy has very powerful biological effects, especially on the mitochondria.”



Ask Ben a Podcast Question

2 thoughts on “[Transcript] – How Modern Lighting Can Destroy Your Sleep, Your Eyes & Your Health (& What You Can Do About It).

  1. Ken says:

    You talked a bit about dimming lights and dimming TVs. My wife, my two-year old son, and I all use blue light blockers at night. At this point, we have LEDs lighting our home and until I make the investment to change that out should we dim the lights or have them bright? It seemed as though you mentioned dimming actually increases the flickering?

    Also, what about the TV. I’ve seen the DRIFT box in your articles, but until I get that; again should we dim the TV at night (after my son goes to bed he doesn’t watch TV). I have a setting to turn of the back light but again are we increasing the flicker?

    If we are using blue light blockers are we better off with bright lights?

  2. SJ says:

    I appreciate the additional information about the Joovv light – I wondered how the two topics meshed.

    I do have another question in terms of tv’s and flicker. Would it be better to use one of those projectors that you can hook up to a dvd player, etc. to project your movie (or netflix or whatever) onto a wall or screen? Or would there still be flicker somehow from the lens of the projector? I am not sure I’m following all the science so not sure if the answer to this question is obvious or not. My tv just died and I’m wondering if I should try to replace it (preferably with something low flicker or flicker free) or if I should try buying a projector instead.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *