Posted on 23rd April 2018 at 11:33
Are you one of the 1.5 million Brits taking sleeping tablets because of sleep problems? Poor sleep, which over time, leads to fatigue, reduced short-term memory recall, irritability, anxiety and lack of focus.
It is now known that any light but, in particular “blue light” (from TV, mobile, laptop and tablet screens) interferes with sleep. Worse still, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night.
Daily rhythms influenced by light
Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of the people who like to rise early fall short of 24 hours. Dr.Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.
The health risks
Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. All light can suppress the natural production of melanin which is the hormone which historically kicks in with sunset but blue light seems to be the most powerful suppressor of all.
Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Unfortunately, clever programmes, app-producers and our own innate fear of missing out means that we are addicted to our phones and digital platforms. The damage of uncontrolled use of devices ranges from negative impact on real-time relationships and conversations to impairment of memory, sleep and brain functions.
Now there is worrying evidence published by the National Toxicology Program. Male rats were exposed to the kind of radiation emitted by mobile phones over two solid years resulting in a rare kind of tumour of the nerve tissue called a schwannoma, which appeared in their hearts.
Also, and unbelievably, the mere presence of a mobile phone is enough to dilute concentration and effect performance. Scientists from Hokkaido University in Japan said that their findings show that it is harder to concentrate when an electronic gadget is present; people performed worse when a mobile was present than those performing only in the presence of a paper notepad.
Add the irritating and intrusive pings, chimes, rings and buzzes and everyone within hearing distance is equally effected and distracted.
What you can do?
• 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.
• No electrical gadgets or gizmos in the bedroom. Use a battery alarm clock.
• If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses.
• 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. Go for a walk at lunchtime - make yourself take a break.
To find out how to become more resilient and prevent overload in the digital age, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book into my resilience course https://www.eventbrite.com/e/be-brilliant-and-resilient-workshop-1-tickets-45198876055
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