The dark-side of phone blue light
Ever since the release of the first iPhone, technology addiction has skyrocketed, but unlike any other addiction, it’s not widely known if, or why it’s bad for you. It’s not like if you spend more than hour on your phone you start to get the candy crush shakes, or literal death from withdrawal if you don’t check it at least 150 times a day.
With Apple’s new release of ‘Night Shift’, a feature which after a predetermined time, stops the blue light and replaces it for a hazy sepia toned version, the Guardian says is like ‘seeing a faded Polaroid of your parents hanging out in the 70s‘. But, why do we actually need this retro feature?
Well, we’re all guilty of staring at our phones for a few minutes before bed; or even an hour! Then when you finally tear your eyes away from the screen, you’re lying staring at the ceiling. Awake. This is the killer bit, when you consume a certain amount of the blue light that’s emitted by any device, whether it’s a tablet or a crappy Nokia, you’re less likely to have a good night’s sleep. Period.
So let’s break that down, why does blue light mean bad sleep? Well, according to a study the blue light from screens, including TVs, messes with our circadian rhythm – the body’s biological clock – and prevents our brains from making melatonin, a hormone that participates in when you wake up and when you should be at the deepest point of sleep.
A lack of sleep has been proven to contribute to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, blindness and even cancer, so it’s not to be taken lightly; no pun intended. Most people’s circadian rhythm is around 24 hours, if you’re usually up a little later than most, then your rhythm will be a little longer. Interestingly a bird’s rhythm is a little shorter than 24 hours, which could explain the more than annoying, Snow White woodland chirps at 3 am, when you’re limping home with a cold kebab.
Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School found that in 1981, daylight kept your internal clock aligned with your environment. Now we know why those winter mornings are a killer. Apparently, not all colours have the same effect though, green light of the same brightness was half as suppressive to melatonin as blue light, so has a far smaller effect on your body clock.
There’s some super easy steps you can take to get a healthy night’s sleep:
- Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
- Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
- Try Apple’s new Blue light filtering ‘Night Shift’
So at the end of the day, or night, try and stay away from bright screens, and pick up a book, stare at an orange, or switch on ‘Night Shift’, our app still looks good with a old-school tint. Whatever you need to do, do it. There’s also the option of blue-filtering glasses, but who really wants to look like Ali G?