Night time use of devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or other gadgets have detrimental effects on our sleep and our health, according to years of studies.  Although this may be the case, if you’re like most people, before bedtime is typically the only time in the day where you can leisurely catch up on your emails, reading, and social media. 

According to studies, what keeps us up at night is not the mental stimulation of our news feeds, but actually the type of light that our gadgets emit.  Unfortunately, almost all the devices we own have light-emitting diodes that give off blue wavelength light that disrupts our melatonin production. 

The brain produces melatonin at night signaling our bodies to prepare for sleep.  Blue wavelength light suppresses melatonin production fooling our brains into thinking it is daytime.  Therefore, this keeps us alert and awake at night when we should be feeling sleepy, since we are lying in bed.  This disruption of the melatonin cycle then leads to poor sleep and performance. 

Although there is no current solution to preventing blue light-emitting devices from disrupting our melatonin production or hope that we will avoid gadget use before bed time, there are a few tricks we can do to limit the negative health effects of night-time gadget use. 

1.  Avoid your devices 2 hours before bedtime

Our bodies begin to produce melatonin about two hours before our normal bedtime, so it is best to limit the use of gadgets about an hour closer to your bedtime.  

2.  Use smaller screen devices

Devices with larger screens such as tablets will emit more blue light, therefore suppressing melatonin production at a higher rate.  If you really need to answer that email, use your smartphone instead. 

3.  Turn the brightness down

Brighter displays on our devices mean more light hitting the back of our eyes, leading to higher disruption of melatonin production.  If your device has an evening or reading mode, try to use that at night, since it is dimmer and has longer wavelengths, and has less impact on our eyes. 

4.  Use a paper book

Switch to an old-fashioned hardcopy or paperback when reading or an original Kindle that does not have backlighting.

5.  Use smart lights 

Our gadgets are not the only devices that emit blue light. Energy-saving bulbs like compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) do too.  Try using smart lights where you can automatically set your lights from a brighter blue light to a warmer color before bedtime.

6.  Use display-changing apps

There are device settings or apps that adjust the color intensity of the light coming from your screens to reduce the blue spectrum at night.  Some of these filters automatically adjust your display color based on the time of day.   

Most smartphones have built-in software like Night Shift on Apple or Night Filter on Android.

You can also download an app for further screen filter options.  My favorite is called Iris, which allows you to choose from 27 screen filter settings. Click HERE for a free trial.

7.  Wear amber-lensed goggles

Aside from app filters, you can also opt to use blue-light filtering glasses that filter out shorter blue light wavelengths. Not all products on the market are the same, as there is no standardization in the manufacturing process. Be sure to get your blue light glasses from a trusted manufacturer. Click HERE for my favorite blue-blocking glasses.

8.  Stay out more during the day

Get your natural blue light outside during the day time to keep you alert so that your body can desensitize itself to the effects of blue light at bedtime.

To learn more about blue light, click HERE

*Adapted from AAO.org

Whether the practice of Rudrani Banik, MD is the first ophthalmology office you are visiting for eye treatment, or simply the last one, Dr. Banik will make sure she does everything in her power to find an effective treatment to help you see better.
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