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Technology is rapidly progressing, and with that so is our use of electronics. How much time do you spend in front of a screen, what about your kids? I will admit we look at screens more than I would like. Between turning on the TV for the kids so I can get things done around the house, to pulling out my phone & turning on Netflix to distract the kids while we are out, the time adds up fast. I don’t know how parents did it without all of the technology we have now. As a parent I wanted to know what all this technology was doing to us so I started researching. I came across something that was totally foreign to me called blue light. Ever heard of it?
What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the wavelengths of light visible to humans that is prominent in electronics like TV, computers, tablets and phones, energy efficient lighting (think florescent lights), LEDs, and the sun.
Why does this matter?
Because we look at screens all day, right up until we fall asleep. Have you ever let you kids watch TV or a play on a tablet to wind down for the night. Do you work on your computer after the kids are in bed or watch TV to help you fall asleep? The problem we face is that we are exposing ourselves to blue light well past sun down.
How does blue light affect us?
Exposure to blue light during the day helps regulate our circadian rhythm (our body’s natural wake/sleep cycle), increases our feeling of wellbeing, and boosts alertness and cognitive functioning by stimulating brain activity. While that is great during the day, we don’t want to be stimulating our brain’s or our kid’s brains shortly before bed. Research shows that exposure to blue light close to bed, within 2-3 hours, suppresses melatonin production (which gets our body ready for sleep) and stimulates our brain, making us feel more alert.
What you can do… 2 hours before bed
- Phone: New phones are coming with a built in blue light filter that you can turn on. On new Androids, go to settings, display, turn on blue light filter. On new Apple products, go to display & brightness, night shift, turn it on. Program them to be on all the time or just turn on 2 hours before bed.
- Other devices: If you have internet on your device and it doesn’t have a built in blue light filter, there are many free apps you can download to block the blue light. Some examples are F.lux, twilight, CF.lumen, etc. There are many out there. The display usually looks a little red when you have the programs running. Program it to turn on at least 2 hours before bed.
- Turn down the level of brightness on your devices at night.
- Buy and wear blue light filtering glasses, like these glasses or these.
- Buy a blue light filter for your TV or computer like this.
- Switch a few lamps to lower wattage yellow lights for use at night.
- Don’t have all of your lights on in the house at night, dim lights or turn some off as it gets closer to bed.
- Get as much natural light as you can during the day to help set your circadian rhythm.
- Choose dim red lights as nightlights as red lights impact your sleep cycle.
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