Did you know that simply looking at your phone before bed can severely disrupt not only your circadian rhythm, but also your vision?
- Blue light affects how we sleep
Our sleeping schedule can be interrupted by the one act most of us do right before bed and right when we wake up: checking our phones.
Our body’s natural clock is called circadian rhythm. Blue light emitting from our phones, tablets and computers (also known as “short-wavelength-enriched” light) has a higher concentration of blue light than natural light, meaning this affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin more than any other wavelength.
According to the Scientific American, shifts in this clock can have debilatating effects because it controls not only our wakefulness, but also individual clocks that dictate function in the body’s organs.
This means that blue light puts stress on other parts of the body. According to eMarketer, in 2015, US smartphone and tablet users spent an average of 3 hours and 5 minutes a day using mobile apps, up from 2 hours 51 minutes in 2014. In 2016, mobile device users spent 3 hours 15 minutes per day using apps. Time spent on mobile browser activities will hold steady at 51 minutes.
- Blue light affects our vision
These shifts in digital tool usage and media consumption are exposing our eyes to blue light from electronic devices, which could adversely affect our vision in the future.
Cumulative exposure can cause permanent damage as well as increase the risk and severity of developing age-related eye health issues. If the back of the eye is exposed to blue light regularly without protection, macular pigment (which protects the rods and cones found in the back of the eye that are responsible for central and peripheral vision,) can be damaged.
- A solution
If you want a full 8-hours of uninterrupted sleep, avoid using electronic devices before bed. Turn off your phone, leave the iPad on your table and turn off the lights. This sounds easy but will take some discipline, especially if you’re used to reading on your electronic device before falling asleep.
Protecting your vision can be simple. Everyone is born with something called macular pigment, which consists of two important nutrients: zeaxanthin and lutein. These pigments provide protection for the back of the eye.
Although zeaxanthin and lutein are found in the back of the eye, the body does not produce these nutrients, which means we must consume food that contains them.