File this one under Things We Know Really Should Stop Doing (via NPR: “One More Reason To Reach For A Paper Book Before Bed“), staring at light-emitting (specifically shorter wavelength blue light) screens before bed is bad for our health:
Based on the findings and others, Chang recommends that if people want to read before bed, they should consider devices that don’t emit light â€” or just pull out an old-fashioned paper book.”
(I wonder how many of the participants in the print book reading study snuck glances at their devices while reading … but that’s a different topic for another day).
Too much nighttime screen time (unsurprisingly) makes us less alert during the daytime, causes difficulty falling asleep at night, and generally wrecks havoc uponÂ our circadian rhythms. In more specific terms: “light from the screens will increase alertness at the very time you should be winding down, which can delay people’s bedtimes. This exposure will then prolong the length of time it takes to fall asleep, which delays the circadian rhythm, which reduces the amount of melatonin (the sleepy-makingÂ hormone) that the body produces. It can also delay and reduce the amount of REM sleep, and finally it will negatively impact awareness the following morning” (via Wired UK, “Screen Reading Before Bed Can Ruin Your Sleep“).
The NYT article has lots of interesting points, definitely worth a read. I’d never heard of the more general applications forÂ blue light blocking —
“LEDs are also increasingly popular as room lights, but â€œwarm whiteâ€ bulbs, with less blue, tend toÂ be a better choiceÂ than â€œcool whiteâ€ for nighttime use. The lighting company Philips also makes a bulb, calledÂ Hue, that can change the intensity of its component colors via an app, andÂ GE last month announced a reduced-blue LED bulb, meant to be used before bedtime.”
Granted, people are probably more and less sensitive to these light sources than others, but in terms of practical tips: “Short of cutting out all evening electronics, experts say, itâ€™s advisable to use a small screen rather than a large one; dim the screen and keep it as far away from the eyes as possible; and reduce the amount of time spent reading the device.”