Can Checking My Phone Before Bed Cause Trouble Sleeping?

Do you check your phone before going to bed?  I sit here wondering, who DOESN’T?

Right before plugging our phones or iPads to charge for the night, most of us are guilty of “checking” our devices, a.k.a falling into the deep, dark rabbit hole of an hour or more of social media!

Have you ever wondered why sometimes after so much time reading or looking at pictures…you lay awake staring at the ceiling? Did you ever think it could come from exposure to the light on your phone or tablet?

Did you know that your phone and tablet give off blue light and you’re your body interprets that light as daytime?

Research has shown that blue light has been proven to affect our natural wake and sleep cycle or “circadian rhythm”. This 2016 study sheds light on the effects of blue light.   A really interesting article by the American Academy of Ophthalmology which came out in May shares more about its effects.

Exposure to bright lights at night causes our bodies to react as if they were responding to sunlight. Our brains actually stop the production of our “sleep hormone”, melatonin, and consequently make us feel more awake. A very bright screen in a dark room may also cause digital eye strain. Have you heard of eye strain? The American Academy of Ophthalmology has an article about ways to prevent it.

The exposure to blue light late at night can really disrupt our ability to fall asleep. According to the AAO’s article, if we limit our screen time to one or two hours before bed and switch to night mode on our devices – we can potentially help our ability to fall asleep.

Night Mode To The Rescue!

Many digital devices now offer a mode for Night, or “dark mode”, which decreases the brightness of the screen and reduces eye strain as well.  How? Night mode reduces the major contrast between the lit-up screen and the dark room you are sitting in.

In “regular” mode, your device has a white background with black text. Typically, “night” or dark mode will display a black background with white or colored text or will shift colors to be more warm. It will make lighter colors more toward red or pink instead of blue. The colors and contrasts that night mode uses help to lessen glare and help your eyes to adjust a lot easier to lights.  All of this lessens the strain on your eyes and allows your eyes to actually read more comfortably.

Where can I find it on my phone?

If you are like me and had never heard of this option, you can google your phone/tablet/computer model and see how to achieve the correct settings for “night mode”.

If you have an iPhone XS – You go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift”. You can even schedule when Night Shift should turn on, you can manually enable it until the next day, and you can also make the colors of Night Shift mode less or more warm!

Can Blue Light Cause Permanent Damage?

The good news (link to https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/should-you-be-worried-about-blue-light ) is that there is no research (yet) that blue light causes any long term effects or “true” damage. In fact, blue light exposure has its important benefits. Research actually has shown that some doses of blue light could help decrease nearsightedness in children and help maintain mental performance in the rest of us.  While its effects on your sleep are negative, there may be a simple fix in using “Night Mode”.

If switching to night mode or setting aside your phone or tablet/computer an hour or 2 before bed does not help eliminate your sleep issues or cause your eye strain to feel any better, call us at 713-626-5544!  You should come in for an eye exam so we can determine the best course of action!

 

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Posted in: Ophthalmology Houston

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