Have you ever stopped to consider just how often you are looking at a screen? Whether it be looking at a TV, computer, or phone, we will collectively rack up more hours of screen time in 2020 than ever before. While it is clear that life is drastically more convenient and efficient than ever before, what is less obvious is the toll that the additional screen time is having on our health. It turns out that the blue light emitted from your phone is not only causing significant disruptions to your sleep but can also cause disease (1).
So, what is blue light, and how can we best protect ourselves without having to make the sacrifices that come with the reduced usage of some of our lives’ most essential devices?
What’s The Deal With Blue Light?
Blue light refers to the specific blue wavelengths that are coming through our device screens. Interestingly, each color of light has a slightly different effect on our brain as we process it. During the day, blue light is processed by our mind as a signal that increases mood and attention. The problem comes after the sun has set, though, when this same blue light suppresses melatonin, a hormone that our body creates to regulate sleep cycles. Without normal levels of melatonin the body is missing the essential signals telling it to prepare for and eventually fall asleep. Repeated exposure to blue light in the evenings can lead to more severe sleep problems. (1)
Beyond problematic sleep issues, blue light can also be straining on the eyes and cause painful headaches (particularly at night!). Some studies have also shown that repeated exposure to blue light has longer-term health consequences, including links to diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (1)
Because of the myriad of potential health problems, both in the short and long term, it is clear that blue light (or rather the reduction of) should be a priority for everyone.
So, What Can We Do about it?
Luckily, there are a number of solutions that can significantly reduce our exposure to harmful blue light and allow us to rack up screen time without all of the adverse side effects.
1) Blue Light Glasses
Blue light glasses come in a variety of styles and work by utilizing a lens that filters out all of the blue wavelengths of light. These are available in both prescription and regular lenses!
2) Screen Covers
Screen covers are an excellent choice for your laptop, desktop, or even phone screen! Convenient to either use or easily set to the side, these covers are affordable and come in a tremendous variety of sizes.
3) Phone Apps
Apps like f.lux are changing the game, allowing you to adjust your screen light settings to filter out blue wavelengths and replacing it with a slightly more subdued color. Best of all, it’s free!
Blue light and more broadly screen time, in general, is the unfortunate and dangerous byproduct of a more convenient and connected life. Of course, the most obvious solution would be to cut down or even abandon our screen time, but to do so would pretty clearly pose its own set of problems. We are left then, to adapt to our new “normal” and adjust our strategy. It’s scary to consider that many don’t know the potential harm they are doing to themselves, and unfortunate that the problem is also easily solved!
What are you doing to protect yourself and your loved ones?