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Blue Lights in Electronics and your Teenager’s Sleep?

Do you have a digital curfew in your house? As difficult as it may be to get kids to stop watching TV or using their electronic devices before bedtime, there’s a good reason to make this happen. The blue light that’s emitted from these screens can delay the release of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone) from the pineal gland. As a result, the blue light emitted can increase alertness and affect the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) by warding off sleepiness and setting the body to a later schedule. This is an especially big problem for teens whose circadian rhythms are already shifting naturally, causing them to feel awake later at night. Teenagers are also more vulnerable to the effects of light than adults are. As a result, the blue lights in electronics can play a big part towards sleep deprivation in kids. When kids feel sleepy, this ends up also affecting their mood and emotions. Blue light is so problematic as it has a short wavelength that affects the level of melatonin more than any other wavelength does. Light from fluorescent bulbs and LED lights can produce the same effect. Normally, the pineal gland in the brain begins to release melatonin a couple of hours before bedtime, reaching its peak in the middle of the night. When people read on a blue light-emitting device such as a computer, tablet or phone in the evening, it takes them longer to fall asleep leading to less REM sleep (when dreams occur) and wake up feeling sleepier despite having eight hours of sleep. So, what can you do to help decrease the incidence of sleep deprived kids? You could consider imposing a digital curfew on your kids. Get your kids to shut down their electronics, including the TV, an hour or two before bedtime to help kids’ bodies start to produce more melatonin which will invite sleep and reduce alertness before bed. If your child is up late doing homework or finishing a project using a computer, you could dim the brightness on the screen. There is also an app now that warms up the colours on the screen—away from blues and toward reds and yellows. Some mobile phones also have blue light filter options you can switch on. You should also try and avoid using energy-efficient (blue) bulbs in nightlights in bedrooms and bathrooms. Try to choose alternatives with dim red lights as an alternative as this red hue of light has a higher wavelength and does not suppress the release of melatonin. At the end of the day, kids who are well rested feel happier and experience less fluctuation in their moods and emotions. If your kids are having sleep issues or as a parent are struggling with digital curfews in your house please contact us by email or call on 0433 905 239.