Technology has changed our lives. Tablets, cell phones, computers, etc. are fully integrated into our lives and lifestyle. But with technology comes the potential for hidden risks. One of these risks is blue light. According to studies done by Harvard and the University of Toronto, blue light can have adverse effects on your health when you’re exposed to it at night. And, if you’re like me, you’re 100% guilty of using one of these electronic devices at night. Perhaps those most at danger are high school students whose lives seem to revolve around their phones. If you have a high schooler, I’m sure you’re aware that when they “go to bed” they spend time on their phones before actually going to sleep.
Let’s dig a little deeper into blue light. Why is it bad for you at night? Let’s start with what we know. Exposure to light before night suppresses your body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin plays a large role in regulating your sleep cycle. When your sleep cycle is thrown off, this can create adverse effects to your body. If you didn’t know already, 8-9 hours of good sleep every night is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Light at night has also been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease in several studies but the link cannot be explained at this point in time. Regardless it’s enough of a link for me to know that you must make a change if you’re using blue light technology at night.
So what can we do about it? Thankfully technology has come up with a solution for the issue of blue light with technology. I use an app on my phone to limit my exposure to blue light when it is dark outside. The free app is called “Twilight.” For my computer, I use a free program called “Flux.” These programs automatically detect the light outside and adjust the color scheme of your device to limit the blue light. Instead of the blue light, it changes the screen to more of a red tint which has been shown to have less of an effect on the body and melatonin production. There are also glasses that you can buy that block out the blue light. If you work the night shift, this is something you should look into to protect yourself. The absolute best thing to do, is to not use these devices in the dark. However, I realize this can be a difficult thing to do in this day and age so I highly recommend using one of the solutions I’ve mentioned if you must use electronic devices at night.
-Dr. Brian Damhoff