When does smartphone productivity start to backfire? Studies have shown that the blue light emitted by our mobile devices interferes with our sleep – and yet 63% of 18-29 year olds have fallen asleep next to their phones.
Light in general affects not only our ability to sleep, but our quality of sleep. Before electric light was invented, humans rose and set with the sun – so our bodies are naturally tuned to work while the sun is up, and sleep while it isn’t. Now that we have electricity, we sleep less than we used to – but in recent years, our attachment to mobile devices, computers, and televisions have been affecting how well we sleep. The blue light emitted by screens in particular sends signals to our brains to wake up by blocking melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone – and even when we power down and head to bed, the effects can last as we try to sleep.
What can we do to combat the harmful effect of blue light? For computers and jailbroken iOS devices, try f.lux – an application that changes the tone of your screen at night and reduces the blue light emitted. Many android customization apps (including EasyEyez and Screen Adjuster) also offer options to tone down the harsh blue light. Another fix is to wear amber glasses (like those used by skiiers) to block short blue wavelenghts.
Another tip is to avoid using devices with screens 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. TVs are okay as long as they are reasonably far from your eyes, but try to power down computers, tablets, and cell phones. A great way to get into the habit of keeping your phone away while you try to sleep is using a cell phone charging station located out of reach. A cell phone charging station not only gets rid of unsightly cords and keeps your phone where you can easily find it, but will help you break your nighttime browsing habits so you can sleep more soundly.