LED Light May Be Keeping You Awake

LED backlit screens on most computers, tablets, and smartphones, including several flat-screen TVs emit blue light, a factor that may be preventing you from falling asleep or from reaching deep sleep. Years ago, according to Berkeley Wellness, electroUsing three comupter monitorsmagnetic radiation had people keeping their computing devices an arm’s length away. Now that that’s no longer an issue, blue light has become a minor concern.

Light exposure received via the eyes helps regulate the body’s sleep and wake cycles, altering the pineal gland’s secretion of melatonin. This hormone is produced at night and helps you fall asleep by making you feel drowsy. This is how, for example, sunlight can improve alertness and why darkness can help you fall asleep. Exposure to blue light, meaning light from LED screens, suppresses melatonin production.

When LED screens are used close to your normal bedtime, such light can reduce your body’s melatonin production and increase alertness; preventing feelings of natural drowsiness from helping you fall asleep comfortably. Not only is computer work or a video game mentally stimulating enough to interfere with sleep cycles on their own, but combined with “blue light,” can make it even more difficult to attain quality melatonin production.

A few small, infantile studies have discovered that bright LED screens have the most drastic effect on melatonin production, alertness, and/or sleep onset and quality, especially when exciting and/or stimulating tasks are done on them. More research needs to be completed to determine which LED screen variables affect sleep the most. For example, level of brightness, screen size, your distance from the screen, the duration of time you use it, and your sensitivity to blue light are all factors to be considered.

Conclusively, if you know you’re having sleep problems and you’re used to using an LED screen right before you’re supposed bedtime, it may be a good idea to change this habit. Try keeping your laptop out of your bed, reserving your sleeping area for only one activity: sleep. Take the couple of hours you have before bedtime to practice calming activities, such as reading a book or having a cup of non-caffeinated tea. Using amber-tinted eyeglasses may block blue light, however there is no evidence that they can help with sleep.

 

Make sure to consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for all health related advice.

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Image: Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Kerem Tapani Gültekin

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