Do you use your cell phone, tablet or laptop after sundown? If so, you’re in good company, because 9 out of 10 of us use some type of electronic device at least an hour before bed. But if being so wired can ruin your sleep, alter your metabolism and make you gain weight. (Read on, because this photo with Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Swanwick shows you an easy way to stay wired at night but sleep better.)
So here’s our 21st century problem: Your favorite electronic gizmos before bedtime emit light of a blue wavelength, which trick your brain into thinking that it’s daytime. Not only that, but poor sleep is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
But, let’s face it, most of us probably won’t change our unhealthy tech habits once the sun sets. For my part, my bad habit (or babit™, as I call it)—which, I’ve almost broken—is that I write blog posts or books into the wee hours.
What about you? Do you, too, have any of these popular 21st-century bad electronic habits?
- Do you send texts or check emails on your computer, iPad, cell phone or laptop after sundown?
- Do you often watch TV at night?
- Do you hop on Facebook and social media sites at night?
- Do you light up your place with fluorescent and LED light bulbs?
- Do you or your children play hand-held video games or use other electronic gadgets at night?
- Do you use on an LED digital clock?
- And do you or your loved ones keep your cell phone next to your bed and use it as your alarm clock?
If you or your kids surf the web, use your cell phone or play video games before bedtime, you’re setting yourself up for some health problems.
Blue light from our popular electronic devices, from cell phones to TVs to video games, emit massive amounts of melatonin-suppressing blue light, which can mess up our sleep, make us gain weight, and even cause depression. (Melatonin, at you may know, is a hormone found naturally in the body, and it helps us sleep.)
]Is your cell phone or TV ruining your sleep, making you fat & harming your health?[/shareable]Of course, we’re not going to turn the clock back to the time of light-bulb-founder Thomas Edison, when sunlight was once our major source of blue spectrum light.
But you need to be aware of the research about blue light’s dangers. It’s both fascinating and frightening. Here are my shocking takeaways.
- All those unnatural lights from our electronic gizmos affect our circadian rhythm and hence mess up our sleep. No wonder 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough zzzs.
- If you read on a blue light-emitting iPad or iPhone, it can take you longer to fall asleep, research shows. Plus, you’ll have less REM sleep and be more alert before bedtime than if you read a printed book.
- Blue light may contribute to developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, according to Harvard Health.
- Plus, exposure to blue light before and during your meal can increase your hunger.
- All that blue light exposure can also alter your metabolism and increase insulin resistance.
- Too much blue light exposure can even make you fat.
- Plus, by messing up your sleep, your poor sleep can undermine all your other efforts to lose weight.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to toss your cell phone or turn off your TV to sleep better and improve your health.
Here are 8 Simple Ways to limit your blue-light exposure at night and enjoy better sleep:
- If you can, turn off your electronics after sundown or block blue light two hours before bedtime. But don’t worry if you don’t want to do that.
- If you want or need to be on your computer past sundown, install f.lux, which makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day. The colors even become warm at night and like sunlight during the day. People have reported that f.lux can even make you sleep better.
- In addition, if you want to work on the computer, watch TV or use other electronic gadgets, you can get and wear blue light-blocking goggles or Swannie glasses, which I was introduced to by entrepreneur Alex Charfen several days ago at PaleoFx. I’m so grateful to Australian-American investor, journalist and podcaster James Sanwick, because ever since wearing Swannies for the past few days I’ve been sleeping much better, been a lot less wired and more relaxed at night. Check out his interesting story here about how his own sleeping challenges led to his inventing these awesome glasses. Of course, the above photo is of James and, of course, Arnold Schwazernegger wearing Swannies.)
- Make sure to turn off your cell phone before bedtime. Then keep it in another room, away from where you sleep. This means do NOT use your cell phone as your alarm clock, advice Ann Louise Gittleman has been offering since the release of her fabulous book, Zapped.)
- Meditate, work out early in the day or find other ways to reduce stress as much as possible, because stress increases our body’s production of cortisol, which lowers melatonin levels.
- During the day, get outside, because daytime blue light is helpful.
- Turn off lights 1 to 2 hours before bedtime or get a red or orange reading lamp, which won’t emit blue light. Or go back to older times and use candlelight.
- Keep your bedroom completely dark (highly recommended), or use a sleep mask, which can cut out the brightness of street lights.
- And, of course, as I often suggest, quit opening your brightly lit fridge and freezer at night and don’t nosh three hours before bedtime on sweets or fast carbs such as processed chips and crackers. (Now, if you have hypoglycemia or other blood sugar issues, you may need a tiny snack such as 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of almond butter close to bedtime.) s
Join the Conversation: What is your favorite blue-light blocking tip to help you sleep better? What other tips do you have? Share them here.