Sleep Part 1 Is Blue Light Keeping you Awake

As technology progresses, we are becoming more and more reliant on our phones and electronic devices.  The advancing technology is good for increasing efficiency and productivity, but overuse of electronics could be affecting our sleep-wake cycle.  Humans are sleeping less and less and also more poorly than they did in the past.  And even more importantly, the quality of the sleep we are getting is decreasing as well. 

One of the biggest contributors to poor sleep that is often times overlooked is excessive electronics use throughout the day and before we sleep.  Electronic devices emit blue light, which tricks our brains into thinking that it is daytime.  When our eyes sense lights with blue wavelength, our brain signals to our body that it needs to stay awake.  Our brain does this by inhibiting the production of melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain that is crucial for sleep. Decreased melatonin production results in difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, among other health concerns.  Fortunately, there are easy ways to combat the effects of blue light.  Here are 4 ways to powerfully reduce your exposure.

Tips to reduce blue light exposure

*Turn your phone on night shift.  This is by far the easiest step you can take right now to reduce your blue light exposure. To do this, go to settings → display and brightness → manually enable night shift.  This will give your screen a warmer appearance that is easier on the eyes and will reduce your blue light exposure.

*Incorporate blue light blockers on all of your devices.  These are simply detachable covers that go over your screen and work to filter out blue light exposure.  They can be used on computers, tablets, and cell phones.  The brand that I would suggest is TechArmor.

*Stop using any electronics at least 1 hour before you want to fall asleep.   I suggest putting your phone on airplane mode and setting your alarm for the next morning at least 1 hour before bedtime.  Not only will this reduce your exposure to blue light, this will also allow your mind to calm down by reducing the huge amount of stimulation that our phones have on our brain. By activating airplane mode, it eliminates any possibility to be distracted by a notification. 

*Use blue light blocking glasses.  Although a more extreme approach, these will work well for people who have to constantly be on electronic devices such as computer programmers or office workers.  One reliable brand of glasses on the market is TrueDark.  They make glasses that can be worn throughout the day or ones for just at night in order to reduce night time blue light exposure.  


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    Dr. Sheena grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota and completed her undergraduate studies in Architecture, Chemistry, and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.