You might wonder if, in our digital times, it is safe for your child to be exposed to light produced by electronic devices. Your kid’s sleep hygiene may be compromised by watching movies and playing games. But does this mean that you should ban phones and tablets altogether? We have some answers and tips for you in this article.
What is blue light?
Why is the light coming from electronic devices called blue light? The light that we can see as humans is a small spectrum of electromagnetic waves visible to our eyes. Blue light has very short, high-energy waves. Blue light is all around us. It’s emitted by the sun and fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs. Now we are exposed to blue light daily because of the devices that use light-emitting diodes (LED) in screens of phones, tablets, TV, and computers.
Why can blue light be dangerous?
Blue light is naturally emitted during the day by sunlight. That makes us awake and alert during the day and regulates our internal sleep cycle.
Your eyes (and even your skin) have photoreceptors that can detect the distinction between bright daylight and the warmer, red tones that signify twilight is approaching. The eyes’ sensors alert your body to release natural stockpiles of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone when the light around you fades into those sunset hues.
Blue light exposure in the evening hours has been linked to decreased melatonin production and an altered sleep cycle.
Because blue light is disturbing your sleep cycle, other health problems can develop, such as an increased risk of cancers, lower levels of leptin that says you’re full when your eating, or metabolic changes, especially blood sugar resulting in diabetes.
How does blue light affect children’s health?
According to the fundamentals of light impact on melatonin synthesis and sleep, both children and adults are susceptible to light’s influence on melatonin production. Children, on the other hand, maybe more sensitive to light. This is because light receptors in our eyes get weaker as we grow older, and children have larger pupils than adults.
According to a study, children exposed to evening light have twice the melatonin suppression as adults. A child’s age and growth stage may also influence the effect. For example, researchers discovered that pre-pubertal youngsters responded more strongly to nighttime illumination than post-puberty teens.
Can blue light cause sleep issues in children?
Screen time has been linked to later bedtimes and less sleep in several countries worldwide. While these observational findings cannot establish a cause-and-effect link, numerous research has proved that light exposure in the evening and the use of electronic devices before bedtime affect sleep in adults. These findings, along with the data indicating that children are more sensitive to light-related melatonin suppression, suggesting that blue light’s sleep-interrupting effects may also extend to children.
However, more study is required to determine whether blue light causes disrupted sleep or if children who have issues sleeping are more likely to use screens (and be exposed to them) before bed and at night. It’s conceivable that these two variables have a bidirectional interdependence, implying that sleep is affected by screen time use that affects sleep.
Tips to reduce exposure to blue light of children
Ensuring that children consistently get enough sleep at night is essential. If you are worried about the blue light exposure of your child and how it affects their sleep, there are several steps you and your child can take. Start by trying the following interventions:
Set a technology curfew
Establish a regular bedtime routine that includes shutting off all electronics one hour before bedtime. You may utilize an alarm to remind a kid to turn off his or her devices at a specific time. Planning ahead of time may help. It might be helpful to schedule other relaxing activities, such as reading, puzzles, coloring, painting, or stretching. Parents should also limit screen usage before bedtime.
Create technology-free zones
It’s a bad habit to have, but many children can’t help but tuck their phones and other gadgets under their pillows before bed. For some children, this might be a difficult transition. However, it can make a big difference in nighttime blue light exposure. In addition, it cuts down on the urge to use electronics before going to sleep, as well as the risk of being awakened by text messages, calls, and other notifications.
Use blue light filters
Before bed, glasses that filter out blue light might be helpful in preventing blue light’s detrimental consequences. There are also blue light-filtering applications. They can alter the color tone of a screen toward warmer wavelengths of the spectrum.
Switch to red light
Because blue light does not suppress melatonin production, red light bulbs for evening reading lights and nightlights may benefit. Long-wavelength yellow and orange light might also be useful alternatives.
You can also use “Dark mode” or “night mode,” a feature that many electronics have. It changes the screen background to black, lowering blue light exposure.
Ensure daytime light exposure
Exposure to bright light helps the circadian rhythms synchronize and promote drowsiness at bedtime. So make sure your kid gets enough of intense, natural daylight every day.
Talk to your children
It might be tough to establish rules and boundaries regarding screen time, especially teenagers. So instead, talk with your kid or teenager about the importance of sleep in their physical and emotional health, as well as the harmful effects of blue light on sleep. It’s also worth considering if you might want to collaborate with your child on technology usage policies. Parents should also model healthy sleep habits by limiting their children’s use of technology before bedtime and storing electronics elsewhere in the home.
Children’s sleep is essential for their physical and mental health. Unfortunately, blue light exposure from screens can interrupt sleep, but there are ways to reduce exposure. Tips include:
- Setting a technology curfew.
- Creating technology-free zones.
- Using blue light filters.
- Switching to red light.
During the day, children need exposure to bright light to help with drowsiness at bedtime. Talking to children about the importance of sleep and modeling healthy sleep habits are also important.