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Why Can Blue Light on Phones Affect Your Mental Health?

Written by Shivani Sethuraman

Why Does the Blue Light from Your Phone Affect Your Sleep Cycle?

The blue light from your phone can cause many problems and one of them is affecting your sleep cycle. When you look at your phone right before going to sleep it can affect your sleep that night. Basically what happens is the blue light from your phone makes your brain think that it is day time and blocks a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy. Since this hormone is blocked from your body it makes it difficult for you to sleep. Especially night time exposure to blue light can throw off your circadian rhythm, which is basically a sleep and wake cycle. Circadian rhythm plays a role in your brain that can affect your sleep schedule. When this affects your sleep schedule it can make you depressed since you don't have enough rest. It's best to not use any electronic devices after the sun goes down because if we do it slows down the release of melatonin which will make it a lot more difficult to sleep. Phones and computers which have a lot of blue light affect the circadian rhythm the most. Blue light is the strongest light which can affect the circadian rhythm.

What Do Professionals Say?

  • “There are probably many possible pathways between screen time and sleep, some of which are direct,” said lead author Mari Hysing of Uni Research Health in Bergen, Norway. “The light from the screens may directly affect our circadian rhythms, and teenagers may be especially sensitive.”

  • “This study by Hysing and colleagues was eye-opening because they showed that screen use above the recommended two hours per day was associated with sleep durations well below the norm, and in the range we see linked with poor school performance, emotional disturbances, and in some cases suicidal ideation,” Gradisar, who was not part of the new study, told Reuters Health by email.

  • “We can’t rule out the possibility that they use screens more because they can’t sleep, but certainly there is other evidence that screen time right before bed affects sleep,” Adam told Reuters Health by phone.

What Does Other Research Show?

90 percent of girls and 80 percent of boys reported using a phone right before bed and laptops were the most common among both genders. Girls reported they spend about 5 and a half hours on any device throughout the day including video games, cell phone, computer, tv, tablet etc. Boys reported an average of 7 hours throughout the day. So, more than 4 hours a day with devices or before bed makes it harder to sleep for teens. Not just looking at your phone or device before you go to sleep but also if you put it near where you sleep. If you put your phone next to your bedside it will make you disturbed during your sleep. Phones always pump electromagnetic radiation whenever they’re on. So, if you keep your phone next to you when you sleep, it can be harmful as well. Research is clear and it says “when teenagers have screens in their bedrooms, it interferes with their sleep. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that children ages 6 to 18 had an 88 percent higher risk of not sleeping enough when devices were in the bedroom and a 53 percent higher risk of getting a bad night’s sleep—and that’s when devices were in the bedroom just three nights a week”.

How to Get Better Sleep and Not Use Your Phone a Few Hours Before Bed

  • Limit your screen time before bed: Instead of looking at your phone an hour or two before bed do this another time in the day. If you look at your phone in the night time it will make you sleep late and get depressed. Or another way is to have your parents set a limit on your phone, so you can't use your phone more than 2 hours or so.

  • Go outside: A few hours before bed instead of being on a device go outside and have some fun. If you go outside you can get vitamin D and you can also have fun. Playing outside, biking or playing a sport is very healthy for your body. Exposing yourself to sunlight will help your circadian rhythm to reset which could make you sleep better in the night time.

  • Adjust screen brightness on your phone: This can’t be a solution to getting better sleep but this can happen once in a while. For example if you are getting a school assignment done and it's online, then maybe that one night you can put the brightness a little low, which might help a little, but it can't be a solution for getting better sleep.

  • Remove the electronic devices in your room: Removing any radiation in the room can get you to sleep a lot better. If you don't have any light and it’s dark, I'll make you sleep better.

  • Sleep in a dark room: Any light in the room you're sleeping can affect your sleep. So, don't put any light in your room while sleeping so you can have a good sleep.

Following these things might make your sleep schedule a lot better and it can help you focus on other things throughout the day. Sleep is a very important part of the day which can affect everything throughout the day. If we keep our phones next to us while sleeping or looking at any device a few hours before sleep, it can impact our sleep and this will cause depression. When we don’t have enough sleep it can be a big mental health problem for teens. Teens need a good amount of sleep and if they don't have the right amount of sleep, it can cause mental health concerns.


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