We all do it—check our smartphones, tablets or computers for emails, social media updates or play those addictive games throughout the day, and especially at night before bed. It may seem innocuous, but artificial light—especially blue light—can drastically affect your sleep and can be harmful to your vision.
Each night, a pea-sized organ in the brain called the pineal gland releases melatonin, a hormone that causes us to be sleepy. Blue light from electronics, the type of light that emits the highest wavelengths of energy, causes the pineal gland to stop releasing melatonin, which makes it hard to fall asleep. Light also tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime when it’s nighttime, making our internal clocks think it’s time to stay awake when it’s really time for bed. If you use your phone or other electronic devices before bed, you’ll most likely find it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, resulting in that groggy feeling each morning.
Not only does blue light from electronic devices affect your sleep, it can also be harmful to your vision. Your eyes can suffer from digital straining, where your eyesight is slightly blurry after staring at your device. Because we concentrate on the screen of our devices, we tend to avoid blinking as frequently while focusing on the screen. Excessive blue light exposure can cause damage to the retina and even eye diseases if exposure is high enough.
So what can you do to fall asleep faster, have more uninterrupted sleep and protect your eyes? While tossing your smartphone obviously isn’t the answer, there are some things you can do to enjoy your electronic devices at night without sacrificing your sleep or vision. For starters, it’s recommended that you avoid prolonged exposure on your smartphone, tablet or computer two hours before bedtime to allow the pineal gland to release melatonin. If that’s simply not an option, ensure your bedroom is dark and free of any natural or artificial light that could trick the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Blackout shades or a sleep mask may be beneficial if there’s a lot of outdoor light that enters your bedroom. Digital alarm clocks with blue LED lights can also hinder sleep, so facing the clock away from your eyes is the best option. You can also talk to your eye doctor about specific lenses that can filter blue light from digital devices.
Of course, if you have any further questions on how blue light can hinder your sleep, contact us. For questions on how blue light can harm your vision or questions about specific lenses, contact our friends at Sunshine Eye Clinic. We’re committed to helping you wake up and be happy!