Technology, Blue Light, and Sleep (or Lack of it!)

Are You and Your Kids Losing Sleep Due to Blue Light?

young man in bed at night sleeping happy at home together with digital tablet or touchpad in internet , online devices and social network communication addiction concept

The 2014 Sleep in America Poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that how you interact with electronics influences how your children interact with electronics. Why is this important? Many studies have shown that at night, light disrupts circadian rhythm and suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin. Blue light, the light emitted from electronics, shifts circadian rhythm twice as much (3 hours) and suppresses melatonin for twice as long as other lights. This blue light affects teens more than adults . So, if you are checking your email or watching Netflix late into the nights, chances are your kids are too, and it’s hurting them.

In 1998, scientists discovered a new photoreceptor in the eye: melanopsin retinal ganglion cells, found in front of the retina. These cells are more sensitive during evening and nighttime hours and are uniquely sensitive to blue light. Blue light is powerful in elevating body temperature and heart rate, and in reducing sleepiness. It helps keep you more alert which means that while blue light is good for you during the day, it’s bad for you during the night.

Because of the way blue light upsets your circadian rhythm and the release of melatonin, exposure to blue light, especially during evening and night time hours, may be affecting your ability to get enough sleep and good sleep. This can be especially detrimental to kids and teens. Short sleep and upset circadian rhythms have been linked to depression, obesity, diabetes, and various tumoral diseases.

Luckily there are steps you can take to lessen the harmful effects of blue light

  1. Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day. This is going to increase alertness during the day, and it boosts your mood and your ability to sleep at night.
  2. Use dim red lights at night if possible. Red light is the least harmful light to your sleep cycle.
  3. Put down the phone! Avoid bright screens at least 2-3 hours before bed.
  4. Wear blue light blocking lenses. If you cannot cut back the screen time, invest in lenses that block blue light and cancel out a lot of the harmful effects.

Remember, your kids are watching you! You are directly affecting their good (and bad) behaviors. So how you are interacting with technology will influence them. The best thing you can do for them is develop your own good habits.

Shireen Hosseini, InVision Eye Health

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