Can blue light from TVs and tablets really affect sleep?

A screen may be a child’s distraction when they get bored and fidgety, but to young eyes it can be a disturbance. Research shows that the blue light that LED screens give off can slow or halt the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells the brain that it's time to sleep. This theory has gained so much traction amongst scientific communities that smart phone companies have begun to address this issue in earnest.

In the modern age of technology, children begin to use digital gadgets from the moment their little hands are able to grasp the device. Seventy-two percent of kids age eight and younger have used tablets or smart phones, and over 30% were under the age of two.

Studies have shown that despite the fact that knowing how to use and operate gadgets makes them tech-savvy and skillful, the effects of blue light radiating from the screens of smart phones, tablets, computers, and TV sets affect children’s vision and their general health. However, it does not mean that they have to totally stop using gadgets. Exposure to blue light is highly manageable by changing a few habits and using eye protection.

Why is blue light bad?

Blue light has a wavelength of between approximately 380nm and 500nm; making it one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths. It is part of the light spectrum that is visible to the naked eye. It gives basic illumination and, in theory, can also improve feelings of wellbeing. This could be why children are so easily attracted to the glow of their handheld gadgets.

But there are a myriad of effects of blue light on our vision and they could be potentially damaging, depending on the duration of a child’s screen time. The reason for this is that a child’s eyes in its maturing stage have not yet fully developed the protective pigments that filter out some of the unsafe blue light that comes from screens.

One of the dangers of blue light exposure is that it restrains the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone that tells us when it is time to sleep. Without melatonin, our brains keep us awake and alert, staying up later than intended. In turn, the lack in slow-wave sleep may bring about behavioral issues and weight gain due to overeating.

Blue light exposure has also been found to cause vision problems. Optometrists have also seen an increase in the number of young people with retinal stress, which could lead to early onset of macular degeneration, also known as chronic eye disease.

Protect ‘em little peepers

One of the easiest ways to protect your child’s eyes from the effects of blue light is to limit their time using their electronic devices. Some doctors recommend to have an hour’s interval between screen time and bed time. Instead, you could encourage the child to read a book.

You also can lower the brightness setting of the screens of devices, which should lessen the amount of blue light coming through.

Lastly, you can decide on using eye protection. Speckaboo Easy Eye offers complete protection from blue light in many cases. These also come in cute styles suitable for kids and toddlers.

Getting in between a child and their devices is never going to be easy, but by developing some of these practices early on, your child can easily adjust. Maybe he or she will be just as happy and entertained reading a book.