How many times did you hit the snooze button this morning? And how many hours did you spend on your smartphone last night? Science says there's a connection: The blue light from your smartphone is killing your sleep-wake cycle.
Fortunately, we have a solution - and it doesn't involve herbal tea, meditation or special exercises. But first, let's look at why blue light is messing with your mojo.
Why Is Blue Light Bad for Sleep?
During the caveman days, our eyes only encountered blue light when the sun came out, and our bodies evolved to respond. Daytime hours were blue light hours - time to be alert and have more energy. Nighttime hours were the opposite. The absence of blue light told our bodies to wind down, relax and go to sleep.
This day-night cycle worked for most of human history, but then we invented fluorescent light bulbs, televisions, smartphones and tablets. These devices emit massive amounts of blue light - and they're wreaking havoc on the quality of our sleep.
Harvard Agrees: The Connection Between Blue Light and Bad Sleep Is Real
It's tempting to dismiss the "blue light problem" as a bunch of "new age" fear-mongering. But a recent Harvard study proved the connection between blue light and sleep disruption. They found that blue light suppresses the body's natural production of the sleep hormone melatonin and decreases the quality of our sleep.
In the study, Harvard researchers compared the difference between the effects of 6.5 hours of blue light exposure and the effects of 6.5 hours of green light exposure. In its article on the findings, Harvard Medical School states that:
"The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms [sleep rhythms] by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours)."
Blue Light Contributes to Serious Health Conditions
Sleep deprivation is a terrible kind of torture that disrupts every aspect of your health and happiness. But tiredness and exhaustion aren't the only health problems caused by too much blue light during the evening hours.
Here's how blue light can negatively affect your health:
1) Sleep deprivation:
People who don't get enough sleep will suffer from a lot of different health problems - not the least of which is exhaustion and fatigue. Ultimately, fatigue from sleep deprivation makes patients more accident prone and less adept at performing their jobs at work. Blue light exposure increases these effects.
Here are the symptoms of sleep deprivation:
- Lack of concentration
- Increased risk of accidents
2) Obesity and diabetes:
According to Dr. Kathryn L.G. Russart, Ph.D., blue light interferes with sleep by suppressing the endocrine system, particularly with regard to melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep. The resulting sleep deprivation and hormone shortcomings can cause weight gain, blood-glucose irregularities and an increased risk of diabetes.
3) Macular degeneration:
Unlike other types of light - blue light goes straight into the retina. Over time, direct exposure to blue light could induce permanent damage to the retina cells. Experts worry that this kind of cell damage might contribute to macular degeneration - a condition that eventually leads to complete vision loss.
Here are the symptoms of macular degeneration:
- Visual distortions
- Reduced central vision
- Difficulty adapting to low light levels
- Difficulty reading
- Decreased color intensity
- Difficulty recognizing faces
4) Eye strain:
A common problem associated with the over-use of digital devices is eye strain. Smartphones and computer screens emit high-frequency blue light that inhibits the ability to focus your eyes. That's why your eyes feel tired after hours in front of the computer.
Here are the signs and symptoms of eye strain:
- Tired, sore, burning and itching eyes
- Dry or watery eyes
- Double vision or blurred vision
- Sore backs, shoulders and necks
- Light sensitivity
- Concentration challenges
- Difficulty keeping the eyes open
How to Banish Blue Light the Easy Way
Most consumers don't know anything about the health-damaging effects of blue light. Nor do they know that their digital screens are the reason they can't fall asleep. They just know they're exhausted, and each day it's getting worse.
Fortunately, 2020 On-Site can help you banish blue light from your life once and for all. Just add our blue light blocking technology to any pair of glasses. You might want to encourage your employees and coworkers to do the same - especially if they're spending a lot of time in front of a computer screen.
At 2020 On-Site, we focus on eye care, but we never lose sight of the complete health picture for you and your employees. Contact 2020 On-Site if you'd like to learn how our mobile eye care service can help your team improve their vision while alleviating their blue light related health challenges.