Folks, I have a confession.
I’ve come to the realization that I spend more time behind a computer (typing up notes, blogging, reading up on the latest chiropractic literature, etc.) than I do delivering chiropractic adjustments. Of course, the chiropractic adjustment is quite time-efficient (in fact, its mechanism requires speed). In addition, behind-the-scenes work in front of a computer screen is necessary for operating a business in this age. So, how do we mitigate screen time’s negative effects on our health?
First of all, why is staring at a screen for long periods a big deal? It’s because of blue light, which is elucidated in this Harvard Health article. Blue light has the following actions:
- Increase attention
- Increase reaction time
- Improve mood
These seem quite beneficial, during waking hours, that is. Imagine that it’s time to wind down for sleep. These benefits may become counterproductive, or even detrimental, when the goal is rest. Light, especially blue light, suppresses melatonin secretion, the hormone responsible to sleep-wake cycles. Without it, our ability to regulate these cycles is impaired. While there’s research that suggests that blue light may have more ominous effects on long-term health, I choose to focus on its known effects on our activities of daily living.
I will summarize Harvard’s suggestions for combatting negative effects of blue light.
- If you must use night lights, use ones that emit red light.
- Avoid screen time two to three hours before sleep. (My commentary: I use Night Shift on my Apple devices, if I have to continue using my electronics.)
- Shift workers can use blue light-blocking glasses. (My commentary: Energy-efficient lighting has more blue light than the fluorescent bulbs of old. Ask your employer if more energy-efficient lights can be installed to aid alertness while you’re on shift, and wear blue light-blocking glasses after shift.)
- Seek out light when appropriate, i.e. when you’re awake, whenever that may be.
Do you think you’ll be able to implement any of these suggestions? Why or why not? Do you have any insights of your own? Let me know in the comments or at your next appointment.
P.S. Curious for more information about blue light or sleep in general? Head over to Tuck Sleep, for more insights on sleep health.