man reading tablet in bed, woman sleeping

Have you ever checked email, Facebook or Twitter before shutting down your computer, laptop, tablet or phone? If so, you would not be alone. Many people watch late night television or review email or social media before they get into bed. A new study suggests that could be a big mistake. Most electronic screens put out blue light that disrupts sleep cycles through changing melatonin production.

Is Your Computer Keeping You Awake?

Israeli researchers have found that switching to screens that filter out blue light in favor of red light are less likely to interfere with sleep. The study included 19 young adults. They wore actigraphs to measure their activity and kept sleep diaries and answered questionnaires about their sleep. Then they were exposed to computer screens between 9 and 11 pm.

The screens produced either high-intensity blue light, low-intensity blue light or red light varied by intensity. People exposed to blue light slept about a quarter of an hour less. They also made less melatonin and woke up more often during the night. These findings confirm previous studies showing that blue light disrupts sleep. iThe red light screens did not appear to alter sleep behavior.

Blue Light Screens:

You may not realize it but most electronic screens emit blue light. That’s because back-lit LED (light emitting diode) technology enhances clarity and brightness. As we demand more definition from our photos and videos, we end up with more short-wavelength, high-energy blue light on our cell phones, laptops, tablets and computers.

What’s the solution to our addiction to electronic devices? Turn them off at least one hour before bed time. Instead of checking email one last time or responding to posts on Facebook, grab a real book and unwind from the electronic world. You just might sleep better and not wake up in the middle of the night.

Green et al, Chronobiology International, online May 26, 2017

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  1. Elliot

    A program called f.lux will automatically change the screen light after dark in your geographic location to minimize blue light. It works very well and your eyes normalize to this change very quickly. You can also buy special glasses on Amazon that do the same thing.

  2. Don

    I use blue blocker glasses. Not only do they block most of the blue light, but they have stopped the eye irritation I was experiencing while looking at my monitor. They can be found on online sites.

  3. Penelope
    St. Petersburg, Florida

    The national epidemic of insomnia I believe is due to the use of all these electronic devices before bed time. Blue light filters are a simple program that can be installed on your computer/tablet or whatever. I find that I can’t use the computer after dinner without disruption to my sleep. TV doesn’t seem to have the same effect probably because it is several feet away from my eyes, compared to the computer, or other device.

  4. Janeen

    The blue light blocking glasses
    Work well to prevent Awake times after using device before sleep

  5. Fred M
    North Carolina

    So glad we can post and hopefully ask questions. Just recently diagnosed with PTS ( Partonage Turner Syndrome ) I have some serious nerve damage and severe, acute, and excruciating nerve pain in neck, shoulder, and left arm. Have actually lost 100% use of arm. Any suggestions what take for nerve pain? Thank you

  6. Janet

    Is there any evidence that Apple’s “Night Shift” (that cuts the blue light) makes a difference?
    And what about the Kindle with only white light?

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