All of us expose ourselves to blue light before we go to bed. After a long and stressful day, your only desire is to relax and wind down. So, drink in hand and feet on the couch, you watch some TV before you hit the sheets. Does this sound like your nighttime routine? Perhaps you have not given this routine a second thought? However, you have to be aware of the impact of Blug Light before bedtime. It’s for relaxation, you say, so how harmful can it be?
Well, as it turns out, watching TV, and exposing yourself to Blue Light before bed is actually pretty harmful in many ways. Two-thirds of the population enjoy watching TV before they go to bed. Did you know how this habit can increase your health risks? This habit causes us to fall asleep later and will decrease sleep quality.
You might argue that your sleep quality is not affected by your TV-watching habits. With droopy eyes, you switch off your TV and wander off to bed. Overcome with tiredness, you hope to fall asleep right away, but your brain won’t shut down! Few people realise that exposure to Blue Light before bedtime leads to increased brain activity.
Once it gets dark, our bodies produce a hormone called Melatonin. This particular hormone enables the human body to sleep at night and stay awake during the day. Blue Light Exposure inhibits melatonin production. As a result, you may find yourself struggling to fall asleep.
- Blue Light Exposure affects your Deep Sleep Cycle.
- Furthermore, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleeping Cycles is also affected.
- The REM Stage of Sleep is the “dreaming” phase where your left brain is stimulated to enhance cognitive development.
- Essentially, REM Sleep improves intelligence. Additionally, when you enter REM Sleep, your body produces essential proteins.
- As a result of poor or too little of the REM Sleep, you will be tired the next day.
- This translates into poor productivity and a dull mind.
- In other words, Blue Light before bed inhibits REM sleep, which translates into grogginess and poor concentration.
The Dark Side of Blue Light
What is Blue Light?
Like all other electronic devices, TV’s emit rays of artificial or blue light. Scientists have repeatedly proven that exposure to blue light before bedtime can be directly linked to health problems.
Much like the commonly known UV Light Rays, Blue Light Rays have good and bad effects. Humans are surrounded by Blue Rays. In fact, sunlight is the most common source of Blue Light. The exposure to this type of blue light is perfectly fine since exposure takes place during the day. Furthermore, this form of Blue Light is natural and healthy. Blue Light keeps our brains awake – this is why we find it easy to stay awake during the day.
So, we established that sunlight is a healthy form of natural light. However, human-made Blue Light is not as innocent as it seems. This form of blue light is the crux of our problem. Remember the hormone Melatonin? Well, as it turns out when your eyes are exposed to blue light, your body inhibits the production of this hormone. So, with low melatonin levels, you will battle to fall asleep. Add this to regular Blue Light exposure, and you have a perfect combination to stay awake. Your body receives a daytime message, a message to remain awake and to be alert. An out of time daytime message is one of the causes of insomnia. The majority of people use electronic devices before bedtime.
Consequences of Blue Light:
Your Eyes and Blue Light
Your eyes can’t block the blue light that is being emitted from TV screens. Usually, our eyes protect the retina (back of your eye) by filtering light through the cornea and lens. In the case of Blue Light, all light passes through the protective barriers, right onto your retina.
Prolonged exposure to Blue Light leads to a condition named macular degeneration. Simply said – the degeneration of the retina. Macular degeneration causes blurry vision and eventually blindness. The more Blue Light you are exposed to, the higher your risk for contracting this disease.
In other words, watching TV at night in a dark room can eventually cause degeneration of the retina. Consequently, you could lose your eyesight due to the habit of watching TV before bedtime!
Your Body and Blue Light
- Blue Light places great strain on your entire body.
- Poor quality of sleep prevents your body from restoring itself and the chemical balance in it.
- As a result, this leads to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
- A lack of sleep also causes poor immunity, resulting in being more susceptible to common diseases.
- Poor sleep may also affect your psychological health. This can translate into feelings of negativity which leads to depression.
Wakefulness and Sleep Deprivation
In addition to the blue light of a TV affecting REM sleep, there is the entertainment factor that may also keep you awake at night. An exciting movie or series may leave you pondering the storyline when you really should be sleeping. “Just one more episode”, you would say, but did you consider the effects too little sleep?
Just like getting poor quality sleep, too little sleep also affects your overall health, causing very similar symptoms. It is recommended for adults to manage around 7-9 hours of shut-eye every night. When you deviate from this rule, your body falls at risk of the above-mentioned health problems. With too little sleep, you are less alert and may experience a decrease in productivity.
What To Do?
We’ve established that watching Blue Light before bed is not a good idea. But what should you do instead of watching TV? After all, we are creatures of habit, and nobody likes their routines to abruptly disrupted.
Start small. Create a “tradition” in your household such as brewing a pot of tea for the family before bedtime. Take a nice warm bath or shower to set your body in a sleepy mood. When your get to bed, remember to dim the lights (keep those to the absolute minimum!), and make use of orange tinted light to keep your body in a state of falling asleep.
Whilst in bed, reflect on the day by writing in your journal. Alternatively, reach for a paperback (with a calm story line) to help you find your way to dreamland. Remember, falling asleep is a process in which your body enters a state of relaxation. Therefore, nothing in your bedtime routine should hinder this process. Most definitely no Blue Light before bed!