Many children and teenagers in Gainesville, Florida and throughout the U.S. are constantly glued to the screens of their electronic devices. When they use these devices during the evening up until bedtime, they can suffer sleep problems. This is because electronic devices emit blue light through their screens. The blue light can cause several problems, including a delay in the body’s release of melatonin and an increase in alertness. The blue light can also reset the body’s circadian rhythm to a later time. Children and teens can end up suffering from sleep deprivation when they are allowed to use electronics up until bedtime. Teens are especially affected because their natural circadian rhythms are changing to later times on their own.
Why does blue light cause sleep problems?
Blue light has a short wavelength. The short wavelength of blue light has a much greater impact on melatonin production than other wavelengths. LED and fluorescent lights can cause a similar effect. A couple of hours before your regular bedtime, your pineal gland starts to release melatonin. The level of melatonin in your body peaks in the middle of the night. Melatonin tells your body when it is time to start winding down and preparing for sleep. When you read text on an electronic device in the evening that emits blue light, it will take longer for you to fall asleep. You will also have less REM sleep, which is when dreams occur.
Even if you get eight hours of sleep, you will wake up feeling less rested than you would if you turned off your devices well before bed.
Set a curfew for your children’s use of electronics
The effects of blue light on sleep should inspire you to set a curfew for your children’s use of electronics. Tell them to turn off their electronics about an hour before bedtime. This will allow them to start producing melatonin so that they will be prepared for sleep. If you cannot get them to turn off their devices, turn down the screen’s brightness. There are also apps that you can install that change the colors of the screen from blue to yellow or red when the sun goes down. Don’t use blue bulbs in bedroom nightlights. Choose dim red bulbs instead. Red light has a much higher wavelength than blue light, and it does not interfere with your body’s production of melatonin.
Get help from Accent Sleep Solutions
If you are experiencing persistent sleep problems, your daily life and your health can be negatively impacted. Dr. Jeffrey M. Phillips with Accent Sleep Solutions in Gainesville, Florida has board certifications from the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the American Board of Sleep Medicine. He is also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Phillips and the team at Accent Sleep Solutions can help you to figure out the cause of your sleep problems and the treatment that might offer the most benefit. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.