Wellfie Wednesday Tip #138: Blue Light & Sleep

Happy Wellfie Wednesday! Welcome back! This week is brought to you by Diana (@DianaKlatt)!

I don’t know about all of you but I frequently find myself turning off the lights, cozying up in bed, and then… looking at my phone. And then I wake up in the morning thinking “wow, why am I so tired? Why did I got to bed so late last night?” Well, it’s because I was staring at my phone’s screen before trying to go to bed!

We have become so overly plugged into our phones and technology that it’s hard for our brains to “turn off” at night. Checking our phones, regardless of where we are and what we’re doing, has become second nature. I know that sometimes when I am reading something on my phone that I don’t even remember picking up the device. And because our lives have become so fast paced, with constant access to knowledge, I also find myself trying to fit in reading news or catching up with people in other time zones any chance I can get - which frequently is right before going to bed.

And I know I’m not alone in this mad cycle of phone staring. I, along with hundreds of thousands of other people, am trying to keep up with everything and everyone constantly and we can't seem to put our phones down to get some sleep (1). Why is it so bad for us to be using our devices or looking at a computer/television monitor late at night from the comfort of our own beds? Artificial blue light.

So what's the deal with this blue light and why does it impact us so much? The body functions on a system that is controlled by the amount of natural light and dark we are exposed to. This is called circadian rhythm and it's a critical process in much more than just our sleep cycles (2). It is no secret that this light alters our cycles. Prior to the boom of technology, people relied primarily on sunlight for cues on when to start and end the day. People simply spent more time outside. Less jobs required you to stare at a giant LED screen and less leisure activities required screens. All of this screen time is seriously messing with our bodies, especially our sleeping patterns. According to a study done in 2012, use of any of these technologies before sleep can completely throw us off. The use of technology prior to sleep has major biological effects on our circadian clock because it suppresses the levels of melatonin (that hormone we produce - or take - to help us sleep), which in turn reduces the amount of REM sleep we get, which leads to a decrease in alertness in the morning... ultimately impacting not just your sleep but also your overall functionality and daily performance (2).

So what can we do if we have to look at screens for work? If we want to pass time scrolling through Twitter or Instagram? For starters, you can install some software to counter that penetrating blue light. Well yes, that's a start. You could install flux (Apple, Windows) OR you could get some really trendy, blue-light blocking glasses (Pixel, Felix Gray). I highly recommend doing at least one of these things. I actually install flux on all of my devices and it's easy to disable if you need true colors for digital editing. I personally prefer installing something to work on the device as I already wear glasses. Also, the iPhone has a feature called "night shift" that you can put on an auto-schedule (enable night shift). While, it's actually quite easy to help ease that harsh blue light emitted to your eyes, this doesn’t mean all is solved. I still do not suggest looking at your phone when you try to go to sleep!

Thanks for all of the support, be sure to post your pictures this week and tag the WW crew members in your post (@TheFuelPhysio@Eric_in_AmERICa@FreestylePhysio@DianaKlatt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

- WW Crew

1. https://www.soundsleepinstitute.com/sleep-tips/cell-phone-causes-sleep-problems/

2. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1232