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Light from Smart Phones decrease chances of good sleep

August 03, 2017 Health Enakshi Dasgupta

Artificial light that is emitted by Smartphone screens may disturb the quality of your sleep.

The smart phones emit blue light, which is also emitted by the sun. In fact the sun is the largest producer of blue light. The human body is attuned to the sun. Blue light therefore boosts alertness and resets the body clock, also called the circadian rhythm, which tells our body when to sleep.

The blue light, artificially produced by smart phones, activates photoreceptors that are called Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells (IPRGCs). IPRGCs suppresses melatonin, the hormone that tells the body when it is time to sleep.

Lisa Ostrin, assistant professor at University of Houston says, "The most important takeaway is that blue light at night time really does decrease sleep quality. Sleep is very important for the regeneration of many functions in our body."

In a study, participants between the ages of 17 and 42 wore short wavelength-blocking glasses three hours before bedtime for two weeks, while still performing their usual nightly digital routine.

Results have showna 58 per cent increase in night-time melatonin levels. These levels are higher than even any over-the-counter melatonin supplements, according to Lisa Ostrin.

Blue light, or ultraviolet, has both good and bad effects.

Sunlight is the biggest and most important source of sunlight. It is also where most of us human beings get our daily quota of exposure to blue light. But it is also emitted from Smartphone and computer screens.

Anterior structures of the adult human eye are effective in blocking UV rays from reaching the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eyeball. In effect, less than one percent of UV radiation from the sun reaches the retina, even if you aren't wearing sunglasses.

On the other hand, almost all the visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina.

Exposure to excess blue light may lead to the light-sensitive cells in the retina. This causes macular degeneration, which leads to permanent vision loss.

The added blue light exposure from computer screens, smart phones and other digital devices may easily increase a person's risk of macular degeneration later in life.

"Because short-wavelength, high energy blue light scatters more easily than other visible light, it is not as easily focused. When you're looking at computer screens and other digital devices that emit significant amounts of blue light, this unfocused visual "noise" reduces contrast and can contribute to digital eye strain."allaboutvision.com

All blue light, however, is not bad for you. A certain amount of exposure to blue light is essential for good health. High-energy visible light boosts alertness, aids in memory and cognitive functions and elevates your mood.

In fact, light-therapy is used to treat Seasonal-Affective Disorder, a type of depression that is affected by the changes in weather.

If you are using your phone constantly - if you use it primarily for texting, e-mailing and web browsing — a useful way to reduce your blue light exposure is to use a blue light filter.

Computer glasses reduce blue light exposure from computers and other digital devices. These are special-purpose glasses available without an eyeglass prescription. Or they can be specially prescribed to optimize your vision specifically for the distance from which you view your devices.

Always consult a doctor before trying out any preventive or corrective measures.


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