3 Serious reasons you need to stop using smartphones in the dark!
If you are like most people, you spend some time at night using your smartphone before bed. Just a final check-up on how friends are doing, a game of Candy Crush, and a quick look at tomorrow’s weather seems perfectly safe and normal. However, as smartphone use increases, so does the research, and it is not looking good for our bodies.
Cell phone radiation is a common problem that many people talk about, but it isn’t the only thing we should be worried about. The “blue light” that smartphones produce has been linked to some pretty serious health issues.
“Blue light is part of the full light spectrum, which means we’re exposed to it by the sun every day. However, nighttime exposure to that light, which is emitted at high levels by smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other LED screens, may be damaging your vision. It also suppresses production of the hormone melatonin, which throws off your body’s natural sleep cues.” (source)
Night time smartphone use has been linked to the following 3 problems!
1. Eye Damage
“Blue light” exposure at night has been shown to cause damage to the retina and macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the loss of central vision or the ability to see what is right in front of you.
Cataract development may also be linked to blue light exposure. One doctor has come across 35-year-olds with cloudy, cataract-affected eyes similar to 75-year-olds. The doctor believes smartphone use is the root of the problem, but more research needs to be done. (source)
2. Sleep Loss
As we mentioned above, “blue light” disrupts melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the body’s sleeping cycle. Without a properly regulated sleep cycle, you cannot get enough of the sleep you need. Lack of sleep or skewed sleeping cycles are associated with a whole bunch of health issues.
• Heart Disease and Other Cardiovascular Problems
• Slower Response Time
• Lack of Memory Recall
• Aged Skin
• Weight Gain
3. Higher Risk of Cancer
Increased light at night and resulting sleep problems have been linked to a higher rate of cancer. This is especially true for breast and prostate cancer. Melatonin, suppressed by “blue light,” is also an antioxidant and has been shown to be essential in the body’s natural fight against cancer. (source)
Basically, melatonin helps the body fight cancer and “blue light” decreases this production. A one-time disruption would not be a serious issue, but there are some people who use their phones for hours at night before going to bed. They do this everyday of the year. Overtime, this begins to add up and create the problems listed above.
When you curl up in bed each night, do you take your smartphone with you? Most people do. It might seem like the perfect opportunity to check your email, play a little Candy Crush, see what your friends are up to on social media or check tomorrow’s weather forecast.
A lot of research has been done on the effects of nighttime cell phone use, and it doesn’t look good. Your evening screen time can be jeopardizing your health and has been linked to some pretty serious health risks.
The moment you prioritize your health and start to implement important life changes is the exact moment you earn your #HealthHero status. You just have to take control. And in this case, it’s as simple as understanding why you should stop using your smartphone at night and making a few simple adjustments.
It can damage your eyes.
The blue light emitted from your personal electronic devices is part of the full light spectrum. We’re exposed to it by the sun each day, but nighttime exposure to that same light (which is emitted at high levels by smartphones, tablets, laptops and other LED screens) may be damaging your vision. (Business Insider)
Studies show that direct exposure to blue light can damage your retinas. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation warns that retinal damage caused by blue light could lead to macular degeneration, a condition that causes the loss of central vision.
While it hasn’t been proven, there may also be a link between blue light exposure and cataracts. More research is needed, but this is another possible risk that can be lessened or avoided by putting your phone away each evening.
If you can’t put the phone down at night, consider the Night Shift feature (iOS) or Twilight app (Andriod). Both adjust your screen colors to minimize blue light emissions to help protect your eyes.
It can interfere with your sleep.
Blue light disrupts the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s sleep cycle. Not only will this result in more sleepless nights and fatigue, but can also lead to a variety of health problems including heart disease, weight gain, depression and anxiety. Learn more about the surprising effects of sleep deprivation here.
It can increase your risk of cancer.
In addition to regulating your sleep cycle, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant essential to your body’s ability to naturally fight against cancer. When your melatonin levels are suppressed, your risk for cancer – and other ailments – increases.
If your melatonin is disrupted for one night, it wouldn’t pose a serious threat. However, if you’re a chronic nighttime phone user, you significantly increase your risk of cellular damage, increased inflammation, healthy immune function and disease.
These are some pretty serious risks, which begs the question: Is it worth it?
I encourage you to tap into your power to take charge of your health and live your best life. Even small changes – as easy as the ones I hope you’ll read in my prescriptions below – can have a profound effect on your well-being. Be a #HealthHero and make your nights cell phone free! These simple adjustments will help protect your health and put some of these risks to bed.
Make healthy living a part of every day.
The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
• Shut your phone down at night. You’ll fall asleep faster, sleep better and wake up more refreshed without the distracting beeps and vibrations throughout the night.
• Keep your phone at least 3 feet away from your body. The greater the distance, the weaker the effects of electromagnetic radiation. If you use your phone as an alarm, placing it farther away will protect your health and force you to get up to turn it off in the morning. So long, snooze button!
• Check your phone only when you really need to. Don’t close yourself off from the world – and people – around you. Unless you have an immediate need to check something, keep the phone at a distance and be present in your environment. Get lost in actual conversation. Make face-to-face connections. Enjoy the scenery. You’ll notice some pretty cool things when you look up and purposefully engage in your surroundings.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re browsing Facebook and come across a post from a friend complaining that they can’t sleep. You notice they posted it at 1 a.m. “Maybe stop staring at a screen, dummy,” you think.
Then you realize it’s 2 a.m., you’re reading Facebook from a smartphone in bed, and you’ve never been more awake.
It’s an inconvenient truth for an increasingly connected (and addicted) world, but LED screens are the enemies of sleep. A steady trickle of studies confirm this, the latest being a survey of 9,846 teenagers aged 16 to 19 in Norway, two years in the making and published Monday in the medical journal BMJ Open.
The teens recorded their sleep patterns as well as their technology usage throughout the day, with a focus on the hour before bedtime. The result? What researchers call a “dose-response relationship” — the more you dose yourself with devices, the higher your risk of sleeplessness.
“Almost all adolescents reported using one or more electronic devices during the last hour before bedtime,” the Norwegian scientists wrote. “Extensive use of these devices was significantly and positively associated with SOL [sleep onset latency, or the amount of time it takes to nod off] and sleep deficiency, with an inverse dose–response relationship between sleep duration and media use.”
Rationalize it all you want — a quick game of Candy Crush will relax me! — but the numbers don’t lie.
What exactly is the big problem with screens? Previous studies have pointed the finger at the blue light emitted by all LED screens, which has been found to interfere with production of the sleep hormone melatonin in the brain.
That would explain the popularity of apps such as Twilight for Android, which promises to “harmonize your screen with the sun cycle” — automatically lowering brightness at night, basically. Twilight has more than 74,000 positive reviews in the Google Play store. (Sadly, there is no iOS equivalent unless you jailbreak your iPhone.)
But that’s only the start of the story, the Norwegian researchers suggest; they also raise the disturbing possibility that electromagnetic radiation may be one of the factors stopping us from getting a good night’s rest. The hunched-over posture that tends to come with screen usage can lead to headaches and muscular pain. And that’s not even counting all the ways the Internet jolts our tired brains.
“There are probably multiple pathways explaining the associations between sleep and electronic devices,” the study says. “Media use may directly affect sleep by replacing it due to its time-consuming nature, or may interfere with sleep through increased psychophysiological arousal.”
In other words, it isn’t just the fact that you’re using your smartphone, it’s what you’re doing on it. All that important-looking news and social media may be overstimulating your brain; even a simple game like Candy Crush can raise your heart rate and induce the fight-or-flight response.
More study is needed; that’s the loud-and-clear message from these researchers and others. These devices and the behavior they engender are so new that science doesn’t have a full answer to smartphone sleeplessness yet.
But in the meantime, there are a number of common-sense steps you can take. The ideal nodding-off activity? Read a slow-paced book. If you must read it on a screen and don’t trust yourself to stick to the Kindle or iBooks app, get a dedicated Kindle device (although even the lowest brightness setting on the Kindle Paperwhite can be a little on the bright side).
Reading on a phone or tablet probably isn’t the best idea, since your brain may associate these devices with more stimulating activities. But if you can handle it, try getting a good privacy screen for the mobile device that reduces glare. Fire up Kindle or iBooks in night mode, then turn the brightness all the way down.
(You can also try this bizarre experiment with blue light-blocking sunglasses if you’re willing to look a little silly in the sack.)
Resist the urge to check Facebook, and you may be well on your way to a slumber that should enhance your social life the following day.