You may not know it, but your smartphone emits a brilliant blue light that lets you read what’s on the screen, even during the clearest moments of the day. But the light does not turn off or adjust according to the time of day; it is broadcast continuously, not only by our smartphones, but by our laptops, TVs and other devices. The problem is that this light, which mimics the brightness of the sun, misleads our brain that thinks it is light, even in the middle of the night. This prevents our brain from releasing melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep, and prevents you from falling asleep. That’s why experts recommend turning off all screens at least two hours before bedtime.
Melatonin is released by a tiny organ in the brain called the pineal gland a few hours before sleep. Science has sought the reason why the blue light emitted by mobile devices keeps people awake and this led to the discovery of a photoreceptor called Melanopsin. Melanopsin has recently been found in ganglion cells of the retina, which are sensitive to blue light. Since then, experimental research has found that the person using mobile devices before bedtime may have difficulty falling asleep and / or staying asleep.
The impact of blue light is even more important for adolescents, who are more vulnerable to the effects of light than adults. In fact, the circadian rhythm moves naturally during adolescence, so that teenagers stay awake later in the night. Playing a video game or watching a TV show just before bedtime may be enough to make you drowsy for an hour or two.
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Blue light is not the only concern
Dr. Martin Blank of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biophysics at the University of Colombia has joined a group of scientists from around the world who will make an international appeal to the United Nations regarding the dangers associated with various emitting electromagnetic devices, such as cell phones and WiFi.
There are multiple concerns with these devices, including their connection to cancer. More worryingly, a child’s brain absorbs up to four times more radiation than an adult’s, and today’s children grow up with these devices by hand. You can read more details on this HERE.
Our love for our screens is in itself a problem. In China, screen addiction is in fact considered a clinical disorder, and as a result a number of rehabilitation centers have been set up where young screen addicts are completely isolated from all media. Although the success of these treatment centers has not yet been established, their necessity paints a gloomy picture of the technological era in which we live. ( Source )
What you can do
The first thing you can do is limit your screen time before going to sleep, turn off all screens at least two hours before going to sleep. It’s the perfect time to read a good book.
You can also download an application called f.lux, which adjusts the color of your computer screen at the time of day – at night and at the brightest times during the day – and cuts off the blue light emitted. There are also similar applications for phones. You will notice a real improvement in the quality of your sleep.
HERE the page of their website that provides more research on what watching screens can do to your sleep, as well as the science behind the f.lux application.
No matter whether you’re worried about your sleep or not, we can all benefit from a daily break from our smartphones and other screens.