How Smartphone Light Affects Your Brain & Body (Infographic)
You might not know this, but your smartphone emits a bright blue light which allows you to read what’s on the screen even during the brightest points of the day. But the light doesn’t turn off or adjust according to the hour of the day; it’s continually emitted, not only by our smartphones, but by our laptops, televisions, and other devices as well. The problem is that this light, which mimics the brightness of the sun, confuses your brain into thinking it’s daytime, even during the dead of night. This, in turn, stops your brain from releasing melatonin, the hormone which induces sleep, and prevents you from falling asleep. This is why experts recommend turning off all screens at least two hours before bed.
Melatonin is released by a tiny organ in your brain called the pineal gland a couple of hours prior to sleep. The science of why the blue light emitted by mobile devices keeps people awake has led to the discovery of a photoreceptor called Melanopsin. Though we’ve long been familiar with the various cones and rods that construct our vision, Melanopsin was discovered recently in retinal ganglion cells, which are sensitive to blue light. Since then, experimental research has found that the average person using mobile devices before bed may have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.
The impact of blue light is even more significant for teenagers, who are more vulnerable to the effects of light than adults. This is because circadian rhythm naturally shifts during adolescence, causing teenagers to feel more awake late into the night. Starting up a video game or television show just before bedtime could be enough to push sleepiness away for another hour or two, making early mornings particularly difficult.
What you can do?
The first thing you can do is limit your screen time before bed, turning all screens off at least two hours before you plan to fall asleep. This is the perfect time to catch up on your reading.
Regardless of whether you are worried about your sleep, we can all benefit from a daily break from our smartphones and other screens.
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