Is Blue Light Really That Bad

Although introduced to the world in 2007, it was not until 2012 that smartphones, particularly the iPhone, swept society by storm. Now, it is hard to remember a life before we were able to occupy our time with a six-inch entertainment device sitting in our pockets. With the introduction of smart devices has come so many benefits to our world that we tend to overlook one enormous negative: our addiction to smart devices, particularly in the evening hours, has altered our sleeping patterns without us even realizing it. We stare into our screens, hoping to catch one more laugh at a hilarious meme or a few more minutes messaging our friends, but with that comes the detrimental effects of blue light. It would be appropriate, therefore, for the sake of the health of our bodies, to set screen time limitations to help people restore appropriate sleeping patterns. Eliminating screen time one hour before going to bed, paired with using night mode once the sun goes down, will improve quality of sleep. 

The ordinary human being had either never heard of or seriously thought about blue light before the COVID-19 pandemic, with the rise of blue-light glasses. So for almost a decade, blue light has been impacting peoples’ retinas and circadian rhythm as published in “Research Progress About The Effect And Prevention of Blue Light On Eyes” in 2018. But because of a lack of immediate harmful effects, it’s easy for people to say that bluelight does not or has not impacted their health. Now that the world for the most part knows what blue light is, some wear blue-light glasses during the day for schoolwork or their careers while in front of the computer screen, but even this was a big phase during the early parts of the pandemic, and most people are certainly not wearing such before bed while staring at their phones. Yet the bright phone screen late in the evening when the night sky is dark is worse than daytime computer usage when the sun is out, according to “Why You Should Use Dark Mode on the iPhone.” The effects of bluelight are real, and build up slowly over time, and limiting blue light exposure is critical to preserving the overall health of our bodies.

Let’s look at peoples’ sleep needs by age. “Screen Time and Sleep: Children and Teenagers” shares that children ages 3-5 years need 10-13 hours of sleep per night, kids and pre-teens need 9-11 hours of sleep per night, and teenagers need 8-10 hours per night.  We know from “Research Progress About The Effect And Prevention of Blue Light On Eyes” that “if blue light is excessive, especially at night when melatonin production peaks, it can not only damage the retina through the ocular surface, but can also stimulate the brain, inhibit melatonin secretion, and increase corticosteroid production, thereby destroying hormonal secretion and directly affecting sleep quality.” So we also know that blue light before bed impacts “how quickly your child falls asleep and how long your child sleeps,” as explained in “Screen Time and Sleep: Children and Teenagers.” This means that if we fail to monitor teens by taking the phone away or turning off Netflix one hour before bed, then we fail to meet their growing bodies’ sleeping needs all the while saying “okay, continue damaging your retina, sweetheart!”

According to the article, “Here’s How Technology Affects Our Life,” published in The Economic Times, “Technology has altered human physiology. [The emission of blue light] affects memory, attention spans, and sleep cycles. This is attributed to a scientific phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to alter its [behavior] based on new experiences.” It is critical, then, to set screen time limitations and use dark mode once the sun sets; “ “Why You Should Use Dark Mode on the iPhone” explains that “dark mode helps protects your eyes from the traditionally blinding whiteness of computer and phone screens” and alleviates the headaches and eye pain associated with excessive screen time.

Finally, we must acknowledge that if a person chooses to ignore this advice, they could very well suffer from a tragic fate. “Sleep Disorders Associated With Alzheimer’s Disease: A Perspective” notes that sleep disturbances are linked to Alzheimer’s, dementia, obesity, and cancer. These illnesses are terrible to have but are overlooked by many as they are aware that they don’t occur right away. The possibility of these illnesses drastically rises over time as there is an increase in the amount of blue light exposure on our bodies. We all look at the present not and not the negative effects that can occur in the foreseeable future which are detrimental. In the United States obesity is common and having an addiction to screens doesn’t help. Not only are the smart devices in today’s world addictive but they cause people to ignore their health and are willing to watch Netflix all day and night. Cancer is very serious and so is the blue light that can lead to cancer. Alzheimer’s which is common to many is also a common illness that occurs as the blue light from our screens the formation of brain plaques and interferes with short-term memory. The blue light that comes from our smartphones can cause us to have dementia as the blue light disrupts the circadian rhythm which can cause depression and aggravation. If watching one more TikTok before bed every night is worth the risk to said person, then so be it.

Screen time and sleep: children and teenagers. Australia. Raising Children

Caprito, A. June 3, 2019. Why you should use dark mode on the iPhone. CNET

Zhao, Z. Zhou, Y. Tan, G. Li, J. November 12, 2018. Research Progress About The Effect And Prevention of Blue Light On Eyes. China. NCBI

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