If you’re having trouble sleeping at night and often wake up grumpy and tired then you may be surprised to find out that your smartphone, tablet and laptop might be the cause of your sleep problems. Many of us like to use electronics in the evening, checking emails or news on our iPhone and maybe playing games on our iPad until a few moments before our head hits the pillow. But studies have shown that blue light emitted from these devices can not only disrupt our sleep patterns, but also damage our long-term health.
Blue light emitted from iPhones, iPads and other devices has been shown to decrease levels of melatonin, the chemical that helps us fall asleep and controls our bodyclock. Using a device up to two hours before bed can cause a drop in melatonin, making it much more difficult to get a good night’s rest.
Dangerous blue light is prevalent in bright screens lit by LEDs and other light sources, and it can cause the brain to become more alert and awake as it travels to particular light sensitive cells in the eye which are different from the ones we use to see. This is what causes melatonin to drop, as the brain thinks we are in daylight even though it’s late at night.
Suppression of this chemical is not just aggravating to sleep cycles but can also be dangerous to our health and put us at risk for a number of medical conditions and diseases. Studies have shown that low levels of melatonin can put us in danger of a lowered immune system, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease and more. A mixture of melatonin suppression and sleep deprivation can prove to be a serious problem that will only show its effects years down the line, and that is why reducing the amount of blue light reaching the eyes before bed is something you should work on right away.
Luckily, there are a number of ways that blue light from devices can be prevented from disrupting the body and they are surprisingly cheap. Simple plastic blue light blocking glasses can be purchased from Amazon for less than $10 and the amber coloured lenses will work well to filter out the light. Wearing these types of glasses for two hours before bed has had amazing results in scientific studies with participants noting a dramatic increase in their quality of sleep, plus they were able to increase their melatonin levels too. Glasses are a great way to filter out the blue light, even if they don’t look very stylish, because TVs and energy saving lights also emit high levels of blue light that mimics daylight and can confuse the brain.
Other options for your specific devices include blue light blocking protectors for your iPhone, iPad and laptop such as those available from Blue Light Shield. These will block out the light from particular screens but you will need to buy a separate protector for each device. In addition, the free flux software allows you to adjust the colour temperature of your laptop’s screen to help prevent the bright light from suppressing your melatonin levels and disrupting your sleep, as well as other more harmful effects.
For your iPhone and iPad, inverting the colours by entering the General > Accessibility menu will mean that the screen emits darker colours and thus less blue light. Controlling the brightness manually will also help to dim the light entering your eyes at night.
Furthermore, limiting your use of your iPhone, iPad and other devices in the evening and especially two hours before bed will enable you to fall sleep more easily and stay asleep without waking. Not only will you not have the bright blue light entering your eyes but you won’t have the distraction to occupy you if you get bored instead of sleeping. Exposing yourself to more blue light than usual during the day can also limit the effect of dangerous blue light as it can make your brain more awake and boost your energy levels, flipping your current routine.
By far, the best method of avoiding the dangers of blue light emitted from iPhones and iPads at night is to purchase a pair of amber coloured glasses as these have been tested the most in scientific studies and have proved incredibly beneficial. As modern technology progresses so quickly, the exact effects of blue light may still be unknown and it could in fact be even more harmful in the long run than current studies show. Limiting the use of your devices after daylight hours will not only create a better sleep routine, but may also possibly save your life.