Is Staring At Your Phone Increasing Your Risk For Chronic Health Issues and Permanent Vision Loss?
The use of artificial light since 1970 has more than tripled, and technology is the reason for this.There are so many devices that we use today such as cell phones, iPads, computer screens, and televisions impacting our lives. We just can't skip looking at the cell phone screen before retiring for the night, because we might miss something important, and once we look, it’s hard to put it down. Sometimes hours can pass unnoticed.
Studies done by Brigham and Women's Hospital show we are hurting our health in the long term. It is important to understand why. Cell phones produce a blue light that affects the Melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is the chemical which controls the internal clock and helps you fall asleep.
It is far better for our health to pick up an actual book and read than to read on your cell phone. When Melatonin is disturbed, it affects the REM cycle. REM is deep sleep, including dream time indicated by rapid eye movement while dreaming, and dreaming is vital to our physical and mental health.
Blue Light Effect On Sleep
When we use a cell phone right before we go to sleep it keeps us alert longer, so we get less sleep and sleep that is not as restful. Studies also show that using a cell phone at night can impact how alert we are the next day. Additional studies by Brigham and Women's Hospital indicated that poorer sleep and even less sleep have a great effect on our jobs and our performance at school. It is interesting to note that with the increase of devices with blue light, there is also a major increase in caffeine consumption either by drinking coffee, energy drinks, or caffeinated soft drinks.
When Melatonin is disturbed on a regular basis, it can lead to serious diseases. Brigham and Women's Hospital studied 12 men and found that not getting enough deep REM sleep can lead to a rise in obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It has also been shown that people who use the phone right before bed have an increased risk of certain types of cancer!
Blue Light and Macular Degeneration
Recent studies suggest that the blue light end of the spectrum may contribute to retinal damage and, therefore, macular degeneration. Those with a low density of macular pigment may be more suseptible to the effects of blue light, since it can more easily penetrate the cells of those with lower pigment. Although much research still needs to be done, this potentially presents a great risk for upcoming generations who currently spend much of their day in front of a computer (also think of your children and grandchildren, who have grown up with tablets and cell phones).
What we can do now is ensure that we're eating diets rich in green, leafy vegetables, because those foods help ramp up the pigment in the macula. Also, make sure to wear blue light blocking glasses or lenses while working on a computer or cell phone during the day, and even while watching TV (more on this below).
How to Block Blue Light From Computer Screens and Smartphones
With the increased usage of cellphones in the teen population (and even tablets in younger children!), the question needs to be asked: Is the high increase of electronic devices adding to their chance of long-term health problems? It will be difficult to know until the younger population ages.
If you must look at the cell phone, especially at night, some ways to decrease the harmful effects are downloading a free app on your phone (such as F.lux) or purchasing Eye Love Blue Blockers. These both help to decrease blue light exposure while staring at our devices.
Getting enough deep sleep is a critical part of your long-term health, and such an easy way to extend your life as well as your quality of life. Although research is minimal, excessive exposure to blue light may be putting you at risk of not only these sleep problems, but macular degeneration as well.
How many hours do you spend on your cell phone and computer per day? Do you think it’s excessive?
Dr. Travis Zigler
by Dr. Travis Zigler | Posted in blue light affects sleep, blue light and macular degeneration, blue light and sleep, Blue Light Effect On Sleep, blue light macular degeneration, blue light sleep, blue light sleep problems, does blue light cause macular degeneration and How to Block Blue Light From Computer Screens and Smartphones | |
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