If you want better sleep, you might need to ditch your smartphone, at least right before bedtime. Chances are, if you’re like most Americans, the last thing you caress before dropping off to sleep isn’t your spouse, but your electronic device. In fact, surveys reveal that almost three-quarters of people sleep with their phone. Some people put their device on the nightstand and others actually sleep with it in their hands. Although your electronic device may or may not interfere with your relationship, we do know that your device’s blue light will keep you from getting better sleep.
Blue Light and Better Sleep
Some people may take their cell phone to bed to check Facebook, look at the news, or play a game before calling it a night. While the desire to have your phone with you at all times is understandable, it’s important to know that blue light hinders your body’s ability to shut down and get a restful sleep. Lack of sleep impacts your overall health. How does blue light do this, you may ask? Read on to find out.
Visible light is made up of wavelengths that range from 400 to 700 nanometers. The wavelengths are either short or long depending on where they are on the spectrum. A wavelength near 400 is short and one near 700 is long. These wavelengths contain energy. The shorter wavelengths cycle more per second than the longer ones, which means they contain more energy. Now, here is where the blue light comes into play. Blue light has one of the shortest wavelengths, containing less than 500 nanometers, making it a high-energy light. Red light has a much longer wavelength, which means it contains less energy.
So, what does all this mean? Blue light doesn’t just emit more energy. It communicates with your brain telling it that it’s time to be alert, to be energetic, to do all the things you don’t want to be doing when you should be sleeping. It does this by suppressing melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body that tells the brain it’s time to go to sleep. Melatonin is necessary for a restful sleep. Without it, your brain tells you it’s time to be alert.
Blue light has similar color temperatures found in sunlight or daylight. This is why it is so stimulating. Think about the last time you walked outside on a bright sunny day. This type of light tends to make you feel more alert. If you want better sleep, you need to ditch the blue light before bed.
Blue Lights and Devices in Bed
Your electronic device is an artificial source of blue light and capable of suppressing that sleepy-time hormone that we need to help us get a good night’s rest. Research shows that blue light from our devices is keeping our brains wired throughout the night. We all know how important a good night’s sleep is. If not, just ask the spouse of someone who hasn’t been getting their 8 hours. Not a pretty sight.
Now, we think it’s best if you ditch the phone before bed. But if you’re not able to do that, we have some ways you can avoid the effects of blue light and still snuggle up with your phone. Here are three suggestions:
This is a software app that you can download for free. It automatically adjusts the blue and red light on your electronic device for you at the appropriate time. Once you have the app installed, you indicate your location by typing in your zip code or city. The program then knows what time the sun sets and rises in your area. Now, watch as the sun begins to set. Your screen will start to dim a little and turn a rosy-orange hue. It looks a little unusual at first, but your eyes will quickly adjust. The program allows you to adjust the amount of blue and red light you want if you aren’t satisfied with the way the app has it set up.
Blue light blocking glasses
Another option is to purchase a pair of glasses designed to block out the harmful blue light. These may be handy for reducing eye strain if you use a computer a lot throughout the day and don’t want to download an app.
Built-in blue light blocker
If you have a new smartphone device, you probably have a built-in blue light blocker. If using an Android phone, you will find it on the scroll down menu at the top where the wi-fi and Bluetooth options are. The blue light filter option has to be turned on manually though. However, you could leave it on all the time. Or you could set an alarm to remind you to turn it on.
Getting enough rest will improve your overall health. You’ll feel happier and be able to concentrate better. Eliminating the energy-emitting blue light will put you on the road to a good night’s sleep.