How Screens Can Affect our Sleep

Healthy Lifestyle

Tammy George

Switching off your device can mean the difference between a good and poor night of sleep. But our ‘always on’ digital lifestyles make it hard to do just that. Find out why sleep is impacted by our screens and what you can do to reduce their impact.

What is Blue Light?

The light emitted from our smartphones, computers, televisions, electronic devices and LED lights is what’s known as blue light. Just like the blue light from the sun, the strong, short-wave, hit the back of the retina in our eyes telling us it’s day time and you need to be awake.  

How Does Blue Light Impact our Sleep?

Because artificial blue light is the same as nature’s blue light from the sun, it confuses our eyes and brain into thinking we need to be alert and functioning. Blue light suppresses the release of melatonin which is the body’s natural sleep hormone.

Our body clock works on light and dark. When we eventually turn off our devices and turn in for the night, our body may not be able to switch off. The exposure to the blue light of the devices has tricked our body into thinking it’s still day and therefore we struggle to fall asleep. It also makes it harder to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.   

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Reducing Blue Light

Energy saving LEDs and fluorescents emit a lot of blue light, so if you can use a dimmer switch to turn down the lights at night, you will reduce the amount of blue light you receive.

Turn down the brightness of your screen, so you aren’t exposed to as much bright blue light. Investigate if your device can use an app which places a red overlay to nullify the blue light. Your screen will be darker and look a little red, but it can reduce eye strain.

There are also blue blocker glasses you can buy which cut out 95% of the blue light emitted from your devices. Wear the glasses at night, and your body won’t realise it has been staring at a screen for hours.        

Remember to try turning off the TV and devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed; longer if you can. Have an evening routine that you do before bed such as tidying up, getting tomorrow’s clothes out and packing your bag so you are away from your devices. Keep your mobile phone out of the bedroom so there is no temptation to check it at night and get another hit of blue light.

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Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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