Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Matt Maruca to the podcast. Matt is an entrepreneur, educator, and founder of Ra Optics, a company at the forefront of blue light blocking eyewear solutions that eliminate wavelengths of light that can ultimately compromise our health. In this conversation, we discuss the issues associated with blue light exposure and dig deep into how addressing this can lead to more quality restorative sleep. Over to Matt.
Some questions asked during this episode:
- What’s the big deal with blue light?
- Is there an optimal time to start blocking this out?
- What can we do to ensure that we stay asleep during the night?
Get more of Matt Maruca:
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- The Light Diet Podcast
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The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.
Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.
Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance, in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long-lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.
Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right, we’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180 nutrition.com.au and take a look. Okay, back to the show.
This week I’m excited to welcome Matt Maruca to the podcast. Matt is an entrepreneur, educator, and founder of Ra Optics, a company at the forefront of blue light blocking eyewear solutions that eliminate wavelengths of light that can ultimately compromise our health. In this conversation, we discuss the issues associated with blue light exposure and dig deep into how addressing this can lead to more quality restorative sleep. Over to Matt. Hey, guys, this is Stu from 180Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Matt Maruca to the podcast. Matt, how are you, buddy?
I’m doing really well. Thank you, Stu.
No, it’s great. Very, very interested to talk to you on this topic today. And for our listeners, it’s going to be very focused on blue light, so something that affects us all. But before we get into the conversation, and first up, for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work or your company, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.
Yeah. Well my name’s Matt Maruca. I’m from the United States, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And I got into the health and wellness world at a pretty young age. I’m 23 years old now, but I started when I was basically 13, basically a decade ago, researching health, because I had some challenges of my own. I spent my entire high school years in the classroom, but mentally not in the classroom, reading all the books I could about nutrition and health. And I got into the paleo diet and primal nutrition and all that stuff. Chris Kresser, Rob Wolf, Marxist, and Ben Greenfield in 2014 when it was still really paleo. There’s no restaurant menus with paleo. Now I’m in Bali at the moment and every restaurant has a paleo menu or something like that, more or less. But back then you were kind of like, paleo, what’s that like the Stone Age?
It was a different kind of thing. And so, I was just trying to improve my own symptoms, which were mostly just gut-ish, gut discomfort, headaches, allergies, and these types of things. And this whole journey led me to a really cool subject of light and how light affects our health. I came across a really niche group of people, doctors, neurosurgeons, bloggers, talking about light and mitochondria and how it affects everything in our body. And particularly, this idea that struck me was the idea that we’re so much more complex than just calories in, calories out, than just our food making up who we are. The idea you are what you eat. Well, there’s some truth to that. But at the end of the day, if our metabolism isn’t working optimally, for example, for a number of reasons, we could be eating the most perfect diet, but it wouldn’t necessarily lead to perfect health.
And the thing about light that interested me in this, in mitochondria, which are cellular engines, for those who don’t know, and we could talk a little bit about them, but it was that the entire metabolism is primarily governed by light. So, for example, the metabolism’s more active during the day. Well, why is that? Because that’s when the sun is active and we have power for digestion. And the metabolism’s basically turned off at night while we’re sleeping. Well, why is that? Because there’s no sun, there’s no power. And so, we don’t have the ability to break down things. And so, there’s even studies showing out of variety of labs and researchers that when we eat a really, you could feed an animal in tests they’ve done a healthy meal at the wrong time of day and it’s actually worse for their system than an unhealthy meal at the right time of day.
So, it’s imagine, you put fuel or some kind of harmful substance into an engine that’s barely running, it could clog it all up. But you put something that’s saying substance into an engine that’s cranking it full gear and it might be able to burn through it a little faster. That’s a way people can kind of visualize it. So, it doesn’t mean we should eat bad food. Obviously, nutrition’s critical, but the way we’re doing it is really important as well. And the timing and the light we’re exposed to. So, this was the kind of stuff I was looking at when I was like 15, 16. And I knew this was big even then. So, when I graduated from school, I started a business making blue light protection eyewear, because I learned that blue light, this part of the manmade light spectrum can disrupt our body’s rhythm, our circadian rhythm.
And it’s a buzzword now, circadian rhythms, but back then it was pretty advanced science. And that’s how I got into this. It was a bit of a progression and things have evolved quite a lot. That was over five years ago now that I started the business. And I’m grateful and honored that we’ve had a big impact on the space, because a lot of other companies followed suit. People thought in the beginning, no one’s going to wear colored lenses. It’s just weird. But we were the ones, I said, well, I know I need this from me and I know there’s this niche community who needs this, so I’m going to make it. I don’t care if the rest of the world wants it or not. And we’re going to make them look good. Because in the beginning, people were wearing these ugly safety goggles. Maybe you remember that.
Well, I can tell you that I remember it because I was wearing them 10, 15 years ago and people were looking at me like I was a lunatic. Why are you wearing these in the evening watching television? And to this day, I still wear blue blocking glasses, but I have progressed from the safety goggles. I mean that term blue light is definitely becoming more popular and you can see that they’ve got apps on the phones now as part of the OS. But I still think that people perhaps don’t quite understand what the big deal is with blue light. So, I just wondered if you could just expand on that a little bit more and add some validity as to why I look like I do in the evenings.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, so a great place to start is what is light if we’re going to break down blue light. And light as far as modern science is concerned, is it’s an electromagnetic field, which is basically a result of the basic laws of physics. So, it’s energy moving through space essentially. So, the sun puts off energy in the form of this electromagnetic radiation. We call it light when it’s in the visible range. But you have electromagnetic radiation beyond visible light, which would include, for example, microwaves, like you heat up your food with by agitating the water molecules. We have x-rays that you use to scan your leg. You have all sorts of toxic, super high intensity radiation from things like Chernobyl or Fukushima from nuclear reactors, which can be harnessed for generating a lot of energy. But if there’s a leakage then it can create a lot of problems for living organisms that weren’t exposed to that.
And it’s an interesting segue, because although so blue light is just a chunk of that spectrum. The visible light portion of that electromagnetic spectrum is something like one 70th of the full spectrum. So, there’s a lot of light that we don’t see essentially. So, we’re living in a sliver of reality that’s this big compared to what is all around us. Now, blue light’s something unlike a radiation from nuclear reactors that has been present in our environment for a long time. So, there’s the sun generating this energy. And unlike sound, which requires a medium in general to pass through, if you go into space and you speak, there’s no air for that sound to move, but light can travel through nothing. That’s one of the differences, let’s say, this electromagnetic radiation.
Now, as far as life is concerned, how does this relate to life? Well, all life on earth, if you think about what would happen if the sun went out, the life would cease to exist pretty quickly. The earth would freeze over. And if we didn’t already go at sync before it froze over, we would be gone when it did. But we require that energy, the photosynthesis, the algae in the sea and the fish and the sea, they eat the algae. Then on land, algae came onto land, and made now all modern plants and trees descend from plant, life from the ocean, and animals on land eat that and it comes up. And so, we get all this energy at the root level from the sun. People can think back to early in elementary school learning about photosynthesis. And so, light has a pretty foundational role for living organisms. Without it, we wouldn’t exist. It is the energy that makes us alive.
If you just have dirt or matter, that’s inanimate, it doesn’t have any energy keeping it alive. When you give it energy, it can, let’s say have motion. That’s Newton’s second law of motion, it’s for something to move, it requires energy. While I’m moving a lot, you’re moving a lot. And even when we’re still, there’s a lot of things moving inside of us, like 100,000 reactions per cell per second. And all that energy ultimately is coming from the sun. So, blue light is one of those pieces of the light from the sun that comes. There’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and then there’s infrared and ultraviolet that we don’t see, but they still come through our atmosphere in big quantities. And the atmosphere filters out pretty much everything else.
So, life uses all those different wavelengths, blue, red, green, orange, infrared for a lot of different things. And you’ve probably seen red light therapy, of course, I’m sure you have. Maybe the listeners have as well. Red light therapy has been found to be so effective for cellular health, because there’s parts of our cells, these mitochondria, these engines that their functions enhanced by this red and near infrared light. The not surprising thing is that that makes up about 40% of the light coming from the sun at all times, even on a cloudy day. So, it’s not so much an enhancement, it’s more like our baseline where we should be functioning.
Now, blue light is another wavelength and because for a variety of reasons. But let’s say the leading theory that makes sense right now is that the blue component of the light is the one that fluctuates the most throughout the day, because of the way that the light interacts with the atmosphere. So, the sky is blue, because when the sun comes through the atmosphere, the blue wavelengths, which are shorter, are scattered more than the other ones. So, the best analogy I’ve come up with is you imagine a pack of wolves running through the forest. And the ones that are going a little slower can bob and weave through all the trees. The ones that are going really fast might run into a tree every once in a while because they’re going too fast.
Blue light kind of goes like that, the fast wolves. They hit the air molecules faster and then they get scattered. Hence, the sun, which is normally white, like other stars, the white light turns more yellow because that’s what happens when you remove the blue and then the sky as a result appears blue. And people can easily imagine their brain. When you think about the sunrise, it’s a more golden, orange light, because more of the blue is filtered out. And as the sun goes up in the sky, the higher it goes, the less filtration, the less atmosphere between the viewer and the sun, the more it appears white, whiter or less orange. And that means there’s more blue coming through.
So, the point is blue light is like a clock from nature telling us what time of day it is. And so, our system integrated a clock in our brain that tracks the blue light. And so, this is all good and well when we’re in nature. But the issue now, to get to the punchline here, is when we have that blue light from that is the same from the sun almost as from a screen, the brain can’t tell the difference from the blue light from screen or from a phone. So, if we get that blue light at night, we have 4 billion years of timing and synchronization and programming that’s going on based on that blue light stimulus.
If we have that blue light now at night, which we didn’t through all of evolutionary history, it’s throwing off a really old system for keeping track of time. And this can lead to the disruption of the production of melatonin, which is the body’s most important antioxidant hormone, which is essential for all sleep repair, regeneration, anti-aging, again, antioxidation, anti-cancer. So, blue light at night disrupts our melatonin and that’s a big issue. And that’s the main reason blue light is an issue. The other one we can talk about as well is during the day, excessive exposure to blue light from indoor sources like screens, like fluorescent lights, LED lights can actually cause retinal damage as well.
No, that’s excellent. So, that answers my next question then because it was essentially, it was about timing. Oftentimes you see people dawn the blue light glasses at night, but now I’m starting to see people that are wearing blocking eyewear of types throughout the day. And previously, I thought, well, if it’s a circadian thing, then surely you’d want to support and perhaps receive the blue light during the day to tell your body it is daytime, stop producing melatonin, create more cortisol or whatever the hormones we are, we need to function optimally throughout the day. But now I’m seeing these glasses, so that’s just more for eye health, is it? The blue light bulb is for the daytime?
Yeah, exactly. At night you nailed it. It is a circadian concern. And actually, it is really important to get blue light during the day. And that’s why the context here is important. I want to keep it really simple, but at the same time, make sure people don’t have it too simple where they miss the context. And they go out wearing their nighttime blue blocking glasses, like these orange lenses that we offer for total nighttime protection through my company in the middle of the day. That’s pretty counterintuitive. So, we want to get that blue light during the day. Now there’s a couple of issues when we talk about manmade blue light. So, from the sun, the sun emits way more blue light than any fluorescent LED screen device pretty much could on the whole. Relatively speaking, if you get really close to a fluorescent or an LED light, it’s right over your desk, the intensity could be higher, it’s possible relatively speaking.
Now, the issue is that near infrared light, which is a component of the sun that we don’t see, but this is the component I was referring to earlier that makes up about 40% of the sun. It’s a component of the light that we can feel as heat. So, if ever people remember old school incandescent light bulbs before everything switched to LEDs, you could put your hand up to it and burn your hand if you touch the glass or feel the heat, that’s near infrared. And that’s actually critical for our body to function properly. Anywhere you go in nature, pretty much any natural light source from the sun to natural firelight, candles, even lamps, gas lamps, even the tungsten filament in a incandescent lamp of burning light as they’re referred to in some places, those are all producing this near infrared light in a really significant quantity, which is good for our eyes.
It’s actually essential for our eye health and it’s essential for our physical health, primarily because of the way it affects our mitochondria. It basically enhances their energy production systems. There’s both by being absorbed by the water in our cells and also by certain proteins that benefit from this near infrared light. And that’s why this red light therapy is becoming such a phenomenon because it works. It’s based on good science. Now the issue when we take away that near infrared, all the modern lights have done that. Unless you have an incandescent bulb, you don’t have near infrared. The LEDs, the reason they’re so energy efficient is because they took out all the near infrared, which is considered wasted energy, irrelevant, not useful for life, not useful for vision. But the thing is, it’s based on a flawed concept of light, that light is purely something for vision and the lacking of understanding that light is actually fundamental for health.
And we could go really far down that a avenue. But at the moment, just to focus on the core point here is there’s actually studies done, videos done of live cells that in vivo studies, in vitro studies I should say like of cells being exposed to blue light with infrared, near infrared and without. The cells without the near infrared, at the same time as the blue, undergo a significantly increased rate of damage. And the mechanism that’s understood is that blue light stimulates the production of reactive oxygen species, which is ROS, a fancy term for molecules that damage cells. They’re the byproduct of our metabolism and they can be damaging. Now they’re critical in certain cases. That’s why you don’t want to overdo it on antioxidant pills. They’re actually important signaling molecules. But in an overdose situation, it’s not good.
Point being, people can think of it like smoke from a fire. When you have a fire, the metabolism, whether it’s the metabolism in the eye and the eye has one of the highest rates of metabolism, the retina actually has one of the highest energy consumption rates of any tissue in the body. I believe it’s the highest, because the amount of energy required for the process of vision is through the roof. So, it’s so important that we take care of our retina for that reason. It’s so sensitive and so critical. And this is also one of the reasons why the number one, got some incense smoking me out here. The number one result of the indoor lifestyle, the diseases you would expect is poor vision. Pretty much one in two people wears glasses in myopic today. So, we’re seeing the results in real time.
So, we want to have light sources that have that near infrared combined with the blue light so we don’t have this extra production of reactive oxygen species, this smoke if you will, from the fire. We want clean burning fires, not just in our eyes but in all of our cells. And that’s why, so daytime blue light protection would be critical when we don’t have near infrared. So, even for me, even if you go inside, this is interesting details that I would never have considered until someone presented it to me. But windows reduce near infrared. So, I’m outside, open air right now, so I have tons of infrared, near infrared coming in, so I wouldn’t wear my glasses right now because these are for daytime, even though I have a screen because the near infrared, let’s say outweighs or balances out the blue coming off the screen quite a lot, especially here in a place like Bali.
Now, if I was behind the glass indoors for extended periods, maybe more than 15, 20 minutes, I would generally throw on my daylight glasses. We call them daylight lenses for that protection. And a lot of the time I’ll feel that need. I’ll feel a bit of an eye strain coming on. So that’s why it could be useful for people in offices, schools and indoor workplaces, in particular grocery stores, hospitals and so on during the day.
Okay. Okay. So, tell us then, I mean you are the light expert, so what do you do from the time that you get up in the morning? How do you utilize light to your advantage through to the time that you go to bed in terms of inside, outside, eyewear that you might use, and maybe some other strategies as well thrown in?
Yeah. So, I created a simple protocol I call the light diet, which is my way of saying go outside more and live connected to nature. But there’s a few simple steps. I even created a little bit of a video course people could Google search for if they wanted, a light diet course. We’re happy to give a discount for listeners. But basically, the core pieces are really simple. I can give it to people now. Basically, we want to get up and expose ourselves to early morning light. So, pretty much the first thing I do every day, sometimes I have early morning phone calls given the time change with the states, but even then I’ll go out and just look towards the sky for 10 or 15 minutes. Now, for people who really want to get a hard reset so to speak, they can actually go and look at the sunrise, especially if they’re in Eastern Australia or somewhere where there’s a nice horizon of the sunrise.
You can actually look directly at the sun for 10 to 15 minutes off the horizon. It’s safe because there’s so much atmosphere that filters out the ultraviolet and the high intensity blue. So, people aren’t going to damage their eyes, but that’s only right off a clean horizon. After it’s up above the trees or a mountain, forget about it. This is not recommendable. You can just look out. So, that’s a good way to start. That’s the best way to start the body’s circadian rhythm. Then as the day goes on, the general recommendation is just to spend time outdoors. This is nothing new. The cool thing is just that there’s more science behind it. It’s not just get outdoors because it’s a cool idea that your parents said you should or something like that, for somebody who’s younger, maybe listening to this. It’s essential because we lived outdoors throughout all of our history.
And when we go indoors, a great way to think about it is when the phone’s plugged in, it’s charging, when you go indoors you’re no longer plugged in, so to speak. And eventually, the charge will drain out from that device that’s unplugged. And same way, if we’re endorsed too much, our charge is being dissipated in general. So, it’s important to be outside couple hours a day. One of the researchers we work with on developing products, he gave me a general recommendation. He says based on, he’s been in the space almost 40 years, and he said, two hours of unfiltered daylight is a pretty good goal for people to shoot for. So, maybe that’s an hour long walk in the morning and an hour long walk in the evening. Or like now, I’m sitting outdoors open air in a covered space, so if it rains, I’m good, but this counts as unfiltered daylight exposure.
So, two hours of that is pretty good. Even somebody can open the window. And it can be hard in places like maybe Southern Australia or Europe or the United States where it gets pretty cold in the winter. But I still recommend there’s even studies folks with seasonal effective disorder had really great results. Something like 90 plus percent of people had a meaningful improvement in their symptoms, or even total elimination, just by going out for a 30 to 60 minute walk in the morning in the winter. So, just because it’s a gray cloudy day, people think, oh, there’s no sun. Yeah, there’s not a blue sky day, but there’s still, at least even on the cloudiest days, there’s still around 30% of the light passing through, 30 to 50%. Now, if it’s a dark, dark time, it’s about to rain, maybe it’s a little less, but in general, the light’s still there that we need for our system. So, getting outdoors.
And then finally in the afternoon and evening, the recommendation would just be to generally observe that sunset or at least that late afternoon winding down sun. And that keeps the body against seeing in sync and seeing, okay, it’s coming to evening. And that doesn’t mean you have to go watch the sunset, although that can be advantageous and also really beautiful experience, but just being exposed to the declining sun and in cities it can be difficult. So, it’s important just to keep that connection. And a few other tips that I found really useful. So, then when the sun goes down, of course, I recommend people wear their blue light protection glasses or just go dark. So, candles in the house, warm red and orange lights in the house. You can buy some orange and red light bulbs from some different companies that are offering those.
We don’t just want to offer exactly what everyone else is doing, so we’re working on some different solutions for lighting. That’s kind of where we’re headed as a company. My company’s called Ra Optics, but we’re shifting toward optics being like eyewear. We’re shifting towards Ra, more light focused brand, and that’ll be available at some point in the future. But anybody can use candles, anybody can go on Amazon or whatever and find some orange or really warm, even just old school incandescent bulbs if they’re still available in Australia. But I find the reason I use the blue light protection glasses is because in my own home I can turn everything off. And I actually use a little headlamp. So, any headlamp you buy has a red feature and I just use a red headlamp and walk around at night. And people, my friends laugh at me, but it’s great.
That’s all I use every night after the sun goes down. And I wear these anytime I go anywhere where there’s any light or if I’m on a computer or phone after sunset. During the day, if somebody is indoors for extended periods of time, if I had to be in school studying in university, in an office, if I go to do a lecture or meet with people for business, or even if I’m in the grocery store for extended periods of time or a shopping mall, I’ll throw on the daylight lenses, especially when the light gets really strong, just because it kind of calms everything down. So, those are the main recommendations regarding light.
And it is quite unusual, the unique feeling that you feel when you put blue light glasses, blue light blocking glasses on for the very first time, because there’s definitely a sense of calm that comes quite quickly after putting them on. And in the evening time, it really does. It’s that step towards the bedtime routine. It really helps move you to the right mindset, I guess. For anybody out there that that’s thinking, I really need to think about the lighting situation in my home at the moment, and they don’t really understand. And like me, maybe they’ve got some halogen lights, maybe there’s some LEDs, they might have some incandescence or some old-fashioned strip lighting as well. What is the goal state for that if we could?
So, it’s a really interesting state of affairs right now, because in most places, and I’m assuming Australia as part of the developed western world, is facing the same circumstances as in the United States and the European Union. But it is effectively illegal to have healthy lighting in your home. And that’s not overstating that. So, when I say healthy lighting, I mean biologically compatible and friendly lighting based on the understanding of the science of light and near infrared and how critical it is. Because they’ve changed the regulations so that any light that provides a sufficient amount of near infrared is effectively beyond the range of what’s energy efficient based on the standards. And these are based on international standards, which is why it’s pretty much standard across the world. And they’re, again, basing these standards on the light that there’s a curve called the V lambda curve, which is the peak.
It’s basically a curve for the peak sensitivity of the human eye for light. And they’re saying, we want to focus the light emission in this spectrum because this is what people can see. So, you can use the least amount of energy for the maximum amount of illumination and vision by focusing on this curve. But the thing is the near infrared light that affects our biology is all the way over here, and you’re not really allowed to have a lot of that light. Or could use near infrared, but then you wouldn’t have enough energy allowed left over to have enough visible light to see anything. So, we’ve created quite a bit of a pickle for ourselves. However, I have some solutions.
So, first of all, again, as I mentioned, we’re working on some, let’s say workarounds. I don’t expect these to be prepared at least till 2024, maybe early in the year. But we’re getting there. And we’re also looking at over time the legislation and these types of things will change as we bring a greater understanding to people of influence and so on, which we’re doing. But in general, after people’s homes have passed inspection, you can pretty much do whatever you want. So, I mean, this is not, let’s say legal advice for people. Proceed at your own risk, make your own decisions. But the best options are, pardon, not LED, incandescent and certain types of halogen lamps that you can use.
What I would recommend is anybody can speak to, for example, their electrician, whoever they’ve worked with or have to help them with lighting and these types of things, and look for flicker free light sources. So, just tell them, I need my lights to be flicker free. So, people don’t want to use dimmer switches, old school dimmer switches. They create both really a lot of dirty electricity by splicing the current flowing to the lights. It’s not a good situation. These old school dimmer switches that just go up and down, these should be taken out, removed and people should look for flicker free light sources and then warmer light sources in general. So, any cold white LEDs, anything like this, these are super blue enriched, very, very high amount of blue and virtually known near infrared. And these are the worst, both for retinal health and also for sleep health, because of, again, this high intensity of blue light and no near infrared.
So, the minimal switch people could make is if they have any cool white lighting in their house, switch to warmer white LEDs at least. But again, the LEDs lack the near infrared, so you are better suited to switch more back to the old school halogen and, or incandescent light. This is the basic recommendation for people who want to make an improvement to their lighting. And yes, it’ll cost a little bit more on their energy bill. Not even a huge, massive amount. I mean, yes, there’s a cost, but comparing with a refrigerator or air conditioning, it’s not that much. So, these are the general recommendations. And again, I can only focus on what we’re doing to make the situation better. Because there are some options out there that claim to have integrated a full spectrum LED light base bulb, so the modern technology, but integrating this near infrared component.
However, they’re not necessarily doing it optimally, which is what we’re working on. So, this is about the best I can offer. At nighttime, I generally recommend people focus on, if they can, candle lighting. It might be impractical for some people, but I have friends who have converted their way of life to mostly candlelight at night and it’s had a very profound impact on their entire life, their routine, they’re winding down in the evening and even their kids falling asleep faster and being less hyperactive in the evening.
Yeah. Well, it’s tricky, isn’t it? Because in the advent of social media and smartphones, tablets, laptops, all of the above, we’re not only getting stimulated by the light, but we’re getting stimulated by the content as well. Do you have any advice for people perhaps that don’t have blue light blocking glasses right now, but would like to use these devices? Maybe could be a wide screen TV. And oftentimes they are really, really heavy on this white piercing blue light as well. I mean our TV in our front room, when I take off my blue light blocking glasses, it’s almost hurts to look at after wearing these.
It’s really interesting. So, for now, I would just say if you don’t have blue light blocking glasses in general, I wouldn’t look at those kinds of screens. Pretty much something like that, I wouldn’t look at after 4:00 or 5:00 PM, depending on if it’s summertime and the sun’s going down at 8:00 or 9:00 PM, maybe after 6:00 or 7:00. But if it’s winter and the sun’s going down at 4:00 or 5:00, I wouldn’t be looking at that after 3:00, something that bright, because that’s basically daylight, midday light. But I would get blue light blocking glasses. That’s my first recommendation in general. The beautiful thing if people want to purchase our product for Australia is that there’s a free trade agreement, so there’s no crazy duties and taxes like there are with Europe. So, people basically just pay the cost of shipping and that’s more or less pretty easy.
So, let’s see, I have a couple other recommendations just to follow on your previous question regarding things people can do, and two primary categories. One is the social media and the device component. The second is around eating and meal timing, because that’s a huge facet of circadian rhythm health. So, regarding the content in these devices, even with blue light blocking glasses, the best practice that I’ve come across, and I’ll say I don’t always end up doing this perfectly, but in general, approximately after 7:00 PM I try to avoid devices entirely, 7:00, 7:30. I’m generally especially given where I am in Bali, given the time zone and the sunrise and sunset, the sun’s up here like 5:45, 6:00 AM, the sun’s up and it’s light. So, it gets light quite early here.
Versus, I was just in Singapore briefly and it’s the same time zone, but three hours flight due west. So, the sun was coming up in the same time zone, almost an hour and some change later. And then setting that much later, which is in a way more conducive to the modern lifestyle where people are already staying up late and sleeping in later. But Bali kind of forces one to, at least for me to wake up even earlier and align with that rhythm relative to our man-made clock system, which I like. That being said, I’m going to sleep around 8:00, 8:39 in general, so I want to be off my device at least an hour before I’m planning to really head towards sleep. I think that’s a good rule of thumb for everyone, is an hour even with blue light protection glasses, an hour before sleep and an hour after waking also.
And there’s a lot of other reasons for this. If people look at even things like Ayurveda traditional medicine or any sort of mindfulness practices, which is I believe critical for health as well, and it plays into light and we can touch on that as well if you’d like, and how they connect. But basically, just to have that time to wind down and to not be simulated by the content, to have that time for yourself, I believe is really critical to set a great wind down for the day and really recap, even if it’s just a little bit of introspection. What did I do well today? What did I not?Instead of going straight from the phone to sleep, then you’re totally locked into the program.
And I’ve been there before for sure many times, scrolling Twitter before bed, even with my blue light protection glasses, convincing myself I’m all good, but no. And then secondly, in the morning first thing, as Joe Dispenza says, if you pick up your phone, first thing you’re reminded of all the familiar people, places, things and times and whatnot in your environment and you’re just back in the program. So, taking that time in the morning to meditate, disconnect from the known, and create that really nice state for the day, I believe those are critical pieces of advice that I come across for-
Yeah, I like it. And definitely it rings true. And you mentioned Singapore and Bali, so I was keen to understand what you do to try and mitigate jet lag with the use of light and timing, whether it be food, exercise, and all of the above. Because you’re come into Australia soon as well, so it’s going to, or it could if handled incorrectly, really hit you quite hard.
Yeah, yeah. I’ve traveled quite a lot over the last five or six years since I started my business. And I definitely had to learn how to manage that. For the most part when I’m choosing to be disciplined, because sometimes I give myself a little slack, but then I pay the price. But the best recommendations that I found that have worked for me throughout this time to eliminate jet lag are to follow all the pieces of advice that I’ve already shared. So, wherever you are, getting in this rhythm, so waking up early, going to sleep early. Now, in general, one thing is to avoid overnight flights. Of course, there’s times where it’s inevitable, but in general, avoid overnight flights because it’s such a huge shock to our energy system. And there’s studies showing that it could take, this might be the most extreme, but even two weeks to recover from a really bad night of sleep or a late night out drinking. And that’s pretty significant.
Now, again, someone like Joe Dispenza would say you can overcome that with your mind and your meditation. And I do believe there’s some truth to that, absolutely, certain health and wellness and nutrition practices as well. But if you assume for an average person who’s maybe taking decent care of their health or not so much, two weeks to recover, I mean that means people are basically chronically sleep-deprived, because people are partying every weekend or drinking or whatever, staying up late. So, staying up till 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, which is already too late to go to sleep, because the nervous system fully regenerates itself for the most part in the hours before midnight. So, if people are going to sleep past 10:00, you’re not even getting proper regeneration of the nervous system. And this is something that was known by ancient Ayurvedic science, out of India and also modern scientists showing the same thing.
There are even people I’ve studied who in the scientific community who said something along the lines of every hour of sleep before midnight is equivalent to two hours of sleep after. Something like this. So, just for people to consider that. So, getting this sleep early, not taking flights overnight, one. If there’s a choice for me to get from Bali to Brisbane for as I mentioned before, there’s only choices either overnight, arriving in the morning, or leaving in the afternoon and getting late at night. And what I understood is that the best thing I could do is take that flight, get in around 10:00 PM, and go straight to the hotel closest to the airport.
And I even changed taking this seriously enough to just change my Airbnb for a day later and book the closest hotel because I had pre-booked my accommodation. But then when I realized this, I’m like, no, I’m not going to drive an hour or whatever and then get there at midnight or 1:00 AM after the customs and everything. I’m going to go straight to the hotel right next to the airport and then sleep and get up fresh. Other really useful things, and this goes to the meal timing thing I wanted to share about travel or just in general actually. So, our metabolism, once we start to have a perspective about light and circadian rhythms, our metabolism basically follows the activity of the sun. So, essentially, what that means is in the morning it’s waking up, it’s becoming more active. In the middle of the day, it’s peak activity, and then in the afternoon and evening it’s winding down.
This is something western science is validating, ancient Ayurvedic science. It has known for a long time the Pitta energy, the fire energy as they call it, is the strongest in the middle of the day. And so, based on that knowledge, it’s been recommended for a long time in the previous sciences. And now, I believe that the recommendation ought to be the same from modern science, based on the modern science available for the biggest meal of the day for people in general to be lunchtime. If someone’s going to eat a heavier meal, if someone wants to eat whatever, people want to eat steaks or fish, or if someone’s vegetarian, great, whatever people are eating. But if they’re having heavy protein, generally the time where the body can utilize that the most based on this knowledge is the middle of the day.
Now, the morning would be time for something a bit lighter. And it makes sense why people traditionally have eaten things like porridges or slightly lighter fruits, something like that in the morning. Also, insulin sensitivity’s much higher in the morning. So, it makes sense if you look at it culturally wide just through history and modern times, people would typically have maybe sweeter things with breakfast. You wouldn’t usually have porridge and fruit for dinner, something like that is maybe more of a breakfast type food. Now, people can eat whatever they want, but this is just general recommendations that I’ve discovered from studying both the modern science and the traditional Ayurvedic wisdom.
Even things like eggs, which are really common breakfast food, like sausage and eggs, that’s something that’s a little bit heavy from a biological perspective, from a circadian perspective to be chomping down at 7:00 AM, unless somebody’s just done a lot of really intense working out maybe before that. And the other thing is also that people’s rhythms are so shifted that usually people are eating breakfast, not always, but in general, 9:00, 10:00 AM is breakfast time. Lunch is maybe 2:00 or 3:00, and dinner’s at 7:00 or 8:00 a lot of the time for many people. And this is really way out of whack based on the circadian perspective. The circadian rhythm perspective, the science of light, and even again, the more traditional Ayurvedic wisdom, they all line up really nicely.
Would be to have breakfast more in the windows of like let’s say 6:00 to 8:00 AM depending on where someone is. Maybe 8:39 at the latest. Lunch between 11:00 and 1:00 when the sun is the strongest. And then dinner close to 4:00 or 5:00, 6:00 at the latest. And again, depending on if it’s the summer when the sun’s out later, maybe you could get away with having dinner at 6:00 to 7:00, but I wouldn’t recommend much later because it’s taking at least two, three hours for the food to really digest. If you’re eating heavy proteins, it takes longer. And we want to be going to sleep with our stomach like a vacuum so our cells can focus on regenerating. If there’s food in there, it’s either taking energy away from sleep to digest, sleep and repair for digestion, and, or the food’s just fermenting not being digested. So, it’s not a good state of affairs.
Now, how does this relate to travel? Well, in general, I think the best recommendation for travel is to fast. If people have the discipline and willingness to fast, that is the best thing to do. So, if you’re flying during the day, maybe have a breakfast, as long as it’s at least an hour or two before the flight, and then just fast after and land and fast the rest of the day if it’s a long six-hour flight if you can, or have a light dinner and then go to sleep with a pretty empty stomach and get a really good nice sleep. Again, it depends so much on all these things, but fasting has been a great tool. Definitely not eating inflight is one thing that across the board, lots of people I’ve studied from have echoed this, because the body’s in a unknown environment.
It’s a little bit of a stressor to the biology based on the science of bio-electromagnetism. Our body is electromagnetic. We’re affected by the earth’s magnetic field. We’ve always lived on the surface of the earth or up in the mountains, but not 30,000 feet or 10,000 meters in an airplane. And that affects the whole function of our biology. So, to eat a big meal-
And there’s also the quality of the food that you’re served on an airplane as well. It’s always pretty crazy. We’re coming up on time, but I wanted just to ask you one more question that just popped into my head when you were talking about the timing of your flight as you’re coming into Australia. And that is, if you’re arriving late and you’re coming to a new destination, you’re going to be kind of wired because you’ve got to find it, there’s new stuff going on, but then if you want to come into your hotel and get to sleep as quickly as you can, what are your strategies to turn off that monkey mind and try and get into that relaxing zone for sleep?
Yeah, that’s a great question. For me, I feel very lucky. I think partially just because of my age, the body makes more melatonin as we’re younger, although there’s no, let’s say, I don’t want to give people a cop out or an excuse like, oh, I’m older so I can’t have this benefit. No, just as again, someone like Joe Dispenza teaches, or even as the science shows, just by using our conscious mind, we can keep ourselves healthy. So, if somebody has the belief that they’re going to be healthy, that’s critical. So, that being said, assuming people can cultivate that belief that their melatonin works well and their body works well and they’re healthy as a baseline. By using blue light protection glasses, I would wear the glasses, of course, from pretty much all throughout the airport, during the day, well, or during the hours I’m in the airport, I might take them on and off just because if I wear them too long, I might start to get tired.
I’m talking about the daytime glasses. And then once we take off. And once I notice the sun’s setting, it’s getting dark, I’ll put on the nighttime glasses. And by wearing these for a few hours, I will have prepared my brain with enough melatonin. The monkey mind is really the most active when we’re in a beta brainwave state. So, beta, and again, this is another thing Joe Dispenza has talked about. I find myself referencing him, because he’s really connected a lot of the energy and the brainwave science really beautifully for people to understand easily. But anyhow, the brainwaves from beta, it’s an active state. Alpha’s more of that trans state where we are more creative, daydreaming. Theta is a state where we are in a trance, essentially. Our mind is awake, our body’s almost asleep, and delta’s when we’re totally asleep.
Now, by using light, it’s the stimulus that comes in and it actually brings us into a beta brainwave state. It wakes us up. Now, by blocking the stimulating blue light, it actually allows the brain to naturally go out of beta and wind down. So, one of the main effects of our sunset lenses, these red lenses that I recommend for night, is people relax naturally in the evening, naturally without alcohol, without drugs, without weed, without Valium, without all the stuff that people need now. Because we use much of the paradox of modern life, which we use all this artificial light at night and everyone’s addicted to, not everyone, many people are addicted to that glass of wine at night. No judgment, but it’s a not biologically necessary to have that to wind down.
We don’t need wine, we don’t need these other things. If we just have darkness, if we have the absence of light. And then in the morning because people have disrupted their sleep, everybody needs coffee. It’s interesting how a drug has been so culturally ingrained into our society. It’s the results of a sleep-deprived society. And nothing against coffee either, but it’s a really powerful stimulant when somebody’s in a dialed in state that it’s interesting. So, I don’t drink a lot of coffee, because if I drink coffee even after 12:00 PM, I won’t be able to sleep that night. It’s so much energy. So, I’m just imagining how could somebody need two or three cups of coffee. They’re already past the point of burnout and they’re living on fumes if that. So, you asked a question about how to calm down the monkey mind. It’s really embracing these ideas of when it gets dark, stops stimulating your brain with blue light and the content from the device.
And it’s almost like you don’t have to do anything. We will. Now, people could look into meditation, people could look into that and learning how to consciously take their energy off of the things that are happening in their world, and basically focusing on their internal world, and relaxing, and continuing to take their energy off the outside world and putting it on the internal world. This is what Dispenza’s sharing so people can look into him for that meditation stuff. That’s probably the best recommendations I can offer. The one other thing I’ll mention just regarding our sunset lenses. So, we had a partnership, you probably heard of Aura, the sleep tracking ring company. Yeah, there you go.
So, we had a partnership with them over 2022 in the summer, whereby people could earn a free pair of our sunset lenses by referring a friend to purchase that ring. And so, essentially, we had so many great customers coming in, or members from Aura who were getting a free pair of glasses, leaving us their reviews voluntarily, who essentially didn’t expect anything because it was just a free gift for them. They didn’t pay anything, they just referred their friend and they got a free pair. And the results were astounding, especially when they didn’t expect it. And we know it wasn’t necessarily placebo because they didn’t expect it. They’re like, oh, this is cool, I’ll take it. Some of them might have, but a lot of people were skeptical.
And even the best reviews are the ones where they say, I was skeptical, that people said that their first night they wore these, their sleep transformed. And the review title lives up to the hype. And the guy says, believe the hype, it lives up to it. But we had one woman, we had many like this, but one woman in particular who she said she was diagnosed with autism, like mild-autism. And so, people with autism apparently have general issues with their sleep, she was relating in her communication to me and in her review. And basically she said her sleep was pretty bad, actually getting really bad. And she wore the glasses and her sleep transformed and all tracked on the aura ring. Deep sleep increases heart rate, variability increases everything, sleep latency, falling asleep time gets shorter. People fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, wake up with more energy. That’s what we tell people because it’s true.
And then this woman, she said, I backtracked on my life and I realized she said she thought her poor sleep was because of aging and menopause. And she said, I backtracked on my life and realized it perfectly coincided with the increased use of devices and artificial light sources at night that her sleep got worse. She said, she sent me another email recently showing me her month of sleep scores. Every single day she had a crown. She said, with Aura, a crown means you killed it. You did really well. So, she said, I had no more than five crowns a month before, just since changing these glasses. Nothing else. I had crowns every single night the entire month. That was impressive.
It is so true, because I’ve been tracking my sleep with Aura Ring for probably three or four years, so this is the latest one. So, it tracks a lot of stuff. But I’ve managed to dial into these different areas of my sleep that allow me to get at minimum 93 to 95% sleep quality, and I know what needs to happen. And blue blocking is a big part of that. And everything else that we’ve spoken about in terms of meal timing that can push your resting heart rate too high, which stops your recovery and your HIV comes down, all of these things absolutely funnel into sleep quality. And then as you outlined before, your life changes when you sleep well.
And so, it’s a hugely important part of this. And yes, the whole monkey mind and the stimulation and the lack of melatonin, all of the above just feeds into sub-optimal sleep, which is where none of us want to be. So, no, it’s a fascinating conversation. I’ve loved it. I was going to talk to you way more about sleep, but I’ve found some great new stuff about light, which I want to share with our audience as well. So, really, really appreciative of this conversation. So, what’s next for Matt Maruca? What have you got in the pipeline?
Yeah. Well, as I mentioned before, we’re working on some really cool both light therapy projects, as well as lighting projects. And no time, not going to give any timelines, but it’s coming together in a really nice way. We’re working with top experts worldwide for this. And then I’m focused on how I can just continue to develop as a person. I’ve had this great opportunity, instead of going to university, I got school of life by going out starting my business. I’ve had CEOs of top five Silicon Valley, social media and tech companies reaching out to me with interest in our products and becoming friends. And I’ve been so blessed in this way just for putting in this effort, and I’m really grateful for that. And I’ve been asking myself, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the next few years I move more towards continuing to grow the business, but maybe even having a family.
So, that kind of thing, I don’t know. I’ll take what the universe gives me. But I had this really interesting idea recently that I wanted to go and actually try walking, doing some really long walks, almost like a pilgrimage through either Europe or India, while running my business because I can. I can be anywhere. And I just thought, there’s so much time we waste in a day. Just even I’m pretty efficient, but even I waste hours here and there in the margins if you add it all up.
And it’s like, I just thought, gosh, something I could do that would be so rewarding and so meaningful in this time of my life where I have the freedom would be to just go to a really long, I’m talking like take a few months and walk from place to place here and there. And it just really taste life a little bit more. And so, that’s the kind of stuff that interests me in addition to the business and the light stuff, is just exploring and really experiencing this human experience, because one day we’re maybe not going to be here, so why not?
Well, that’s right. Or one day you maybe have a family and you can’t do this.
That’s right too.
So, that’s what I’m interested in. And the spiritual stuff I mentioned, I’ve been following Joe Dispenza. I mentioned him a few times throughout this podcast. I believe the meditation aspect is the evolution of where light goes. When you learn that light is so critical in the body and we are electromagnetic beings, essentially beings of light, so to speak. When I learned this and time eventually moved by, and I thought, gosh, this meditation thing makes so much sense that if we’re these beings of light and we could do all this outer light work, like changing our environment, it just became clear to me the one missing piece, the main missing piece for the light diet, and I’ve integrated it, is this idea of focusing on our inner light. So, consciously using our energy to cultivate ourselves. And I thought that was a really cool concept. And I think that’s where I want this all to go in a long run, more and more.
Brilliant. Fascinating. Fascinating to follow your journey. So, for all of our listeners out there then that want to find out more about you, dig into your life, check out the glasses and the company and the backstory, where shall I send them?
Yeah, absolutely. I would recommend going to Ra. That’s R-A, like the Egyptian sun god raoptics.com. So, people can read a little bit about me and my story. People can learn about the products. And for more, let’s say bits of information, people can go to my Instagram page, and that’s The Light Diet, three words altogether in those spaces, The Light Diet. And I’ll share different things that I’m thinking about just on Instagram. And then we also have an Instagram page for Ra Optics. That’s Ra_Optics for people who want to learn a little bit more about the technology, see some beautiful inspiration from just nature as well. We try to keep it inspiring and give people some new ways of thinking about things. So, I would say those are the main things that people can look at. And from Instagram, I also have a podcast that I do occasionally, like solo episodes where I’ll share more detailed thoughts. That’s The Light Diet Podcast, so people can subscribe to that in case they want longer form detailed updates.
Maybe one day I’ll put it all into a book. I think that will be a great book. But there’s still quite a bit that I’d like to dive into in that process.
That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
That’s everything. Thank you so much for asking us, Stu.
No problems. Well, I’ll put all those links in the show notes so we direct everybody to the right place. But Matt, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure. I’ve learned some stuff today, which I didn’t know, which is always the goal for me and I can’t wait to share it with my audience. Thanks so much.
My pleasure. It’s been so enjoyable as well. Thank you.
Thank you. Bye-Bye