The Bed Time Ritual
The picture just above these words probably looks familiar to you. Tired eyes, bright light, dark room: the nightly ritual of scrolling before bed. A time-honored tradition of the very short era we call the tech boom, checking your phone before bed is something we all do. Unfortunately, according to Skye Gould and Kevin Loria on techinsider.io while “It may be hard to stop,” it turns out, “looking at your phone at night is a terrible idea.”
Here’s the problem: Blue light. Your brain operates on a cycle called “circadian rhythm.” This rhythm controls the chemicals related to sleepiness and wakefulness. Blue light triggers your brain, telling it to wake up the body, and cease production of the sleep chemical (melatonin). It turns out, the same blue light emitted from the sun naturally which tells your brain to wake up is also produced by smartphone screens. It doesn’t take an optometrist to see the problem here: extra blue light before bed means no (or delayed) melatonin production. Weak melatonin means more difficulty falling and staying asleep.
More Than Just a Bad Night’s Sleep
Infographics make everything more simple, so we shared the same graphic from the article we quoted earlier. What this graphic makes clear is that blue light effects more than just sleep on the night on which you’re exposed. Memory and learning impairment, neurotoxin build up, depression, obesity, cancer, cataracts, and retinal damage all possibly lie in the future of those unwilling to unplug for the hours before bed.
The problems extend even beyond bedtime. If you use digital devices regularly, you risk the symptoms of digital eye syndrome (DES), AKA computer vision syndrome (CVS). Stop me when I describe something you’ve experienced during or immediately after an extended period of digital device use at any time of the day:
- Blurred Vision
- Eye Pain
- Dry Eyes
- Neck Pain
All of these symptoms are associated with prolonged use of digital screens.
Unplug, Or Adjust
Unless you take precautions, the problems associated with the use of digital screens will eventually bring about the results listed above. For the first of the two issues (screens in bed) the solution, painful as it may be at first, is simple: stop doing it. Giving up your night time practice of alone time with your phone or tablet will alleviate the associated sleep issues quite easily. The same solution applies throughout the day. If you don’t want to experience the negative consequences of blue light exposure, don’t use digital screens, simple enough! Only, it’s not. Most occupations, and pastimes, require screens these days. Unless you plan on quitting your job and giving up your hobbies, abstaining from screens won’t cut it. Instead, conscious consumption is key.
Never use your screens without taking a break for your eyes at least every 20 minutes; step away from your screens for an extended period after no more than 3 hours; and consider protecting your eyes directly with digital features that reduce blue light, or protective eyewear.