Say goodnight to the blue light: Technology’s effect on sleep

Struggling to get your eight hours? Perhaps it’s time to put down the phone. 

Most people find it almost impossible to go a day without looking at some form of screen. However, there is a time and a place for your devices. Study’s have shown that the blue light emitted from electronic screens can negatively affect your sleep pattern. Most light can have an impact on your ability to have a good night’s rest. However, blue light is particularly bad.

Blue light is a suppressant for melatonin which is essential for a good sleep.  Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain which basically controls your sleep cycle. When compared to other kinds of light, blue light creates an adverse effect on your body. It suppresses melatonin for twice as long as other conventional forms of light. Simply put, this means that if you look at any devices before bed, the chances of you getting a good sleep are lessened. Some studies suggest that for teenagers and young adults, limiting your screen time can also help with concentration and mood swings. 

Not only does extended screen time affect sleep patterns, it can also cause vision problems. Over exposure to blue light can cause the eyes to become tired and strained. This can result in a difficulty to focus. Blurred vision, sore eyes and lack of sleep can all be attributed to extended exposure to blue light. An organization called “Prevent Blindness” states that prolonged exposure to blue light can even cause age-related macular degeneration.

Social media has also played a large part in why people look at their devices. Aaron Stewart lives in Kamloops, British Columbia and works exclusively outdoors. But even he thinks he uses screens too much. “I use my phone mostly for personal use, it’s kind of addicting…but I don’t really use any tech for work.”

Ian McGregor is a salesman at a tech company. He has no choice but to expose himself to extended periods of screen time. “I think I spend too much time looking at screens. My phone, PC’s and TV are the main culprits. It’s mainly work related…looking at my PC for 8-10 hours a day.” This situation is a reality for millions of people.

TV, cell phones, computers and even most car infotainment systems have blue light emitting from them. There are now glasses that claim to hinder the negative effects of blue light. However, these glasses still have yet to be studied enough to make significant claims about their effectiveness. So how do we avoid blue light if it is literally everywhere? The graphic below offers some simple strategies.

So when it’s time to say goodnight, remember to turn off the blue light.