Until a couple of centuries ago, people hadn’t even heard about artificial light. They used to burn candles and went to sleep when the sun went down. Their main source of lighting was the sun, and they spent their evenings in darkness. On the other hand, we take pride in having convenient technology that allows us to stay up as late as we want. Actually, the amount of artificial light in the world has tripled since 1970. However, the number of people suffering from depression, insomnia, and the use of prescription sleeping pills, anti-depressants and caffeine has skyrocketed. Is this a coincidence? Unfortunately, it isn’t. According to statistics, 95 % of American people use different types of electronics before going to bed. Whether you’re watching TV, working on the computer or checking your phone, these activities can cause sleep disruption and insomnia which lead to much bigger health issues.
Here is why using your phone and computer before bed is killing you
According to research, nighttime exposure to artificial light suppresses the production of melatonin. The pineal gland secretes melatonin. This is the main hormone which controls sleep and wake cycles. However, in order for the pineal gland to stimulate the production of melatonin, we need darkness. This vital hormone maintains the circadian rhythm of our body. Our bodies function optimally when we are exposed to natural darkness on an internal 24-hour clock. And according to a recent study, people whose circadian 24-hour is interrupted by artificial light are more likely to get cancer. Natural darkness increases melatonin and protects our cells from damage. Melatonin suppression has been linked to cancer, type 2 diabetes, impaired immune systems, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and obesity. We need to make sure that we are producing enough melatonin since it is a powerful antioxidant which has positive effects on the immune system and the aging process.
What Can We Do
Here are some ways to reduce our exposure to artificial lights:
- We can use dim red lights for night lights – they have the least power to suppress melatonin and disrupt circadian rhythm.
- If we spend a lot of time in the bright light during the day it will help us sleep great at night.
- If you really must use your computer in the evening, download the free program f.lux. It will adjust the brightness and color temperature of your computer’s display according to the time of day.
- Avoid looking at bright screens two to three hours before bed.
- Purchase a pair of Uvex Skyper orange tint glasses. They are not expensive at all, around $10 on Amazon, but they will block the blue light emitted from all your electronics.