13 January 2024, Mumbai: Ever wondered if the light from your phone screen is messing with your sleep? Well, a recent study says maybe not as much as we thought. This study checked out how people reacted to different types of light, and surprisingly, blue light might not be the sleep thief we believed it to be. People have been all worked up about the light from smartphones, tablets, and computers messing with our natural sleep patterns.
No Clear Evidence That Blue Light was Worse For Sleep
But hold on, the new study, released in the journal Nature by researchers from the University of Basel and the Technical University of Munich, suggests that the so-called blue light from these devices might not be as disruptive as we thought. They tested 16 people by exposing them to three types of light for an hour before bedtime – blue-dim, yellow, and constant white background light. Surprisingly, there was no clear evidence that blue light was worse for sleep than the other lights.
ipRGCs in our eyes are all about the intensity of light
Our eyes have cones, rods, and some fancy cells called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs). Blue light, the kind that comes from devices like phones and tablets, is a short-wavelength light. Cones in our eyes, which respond to bright light, turn it into the color blue. Rod cells, on the other hand, work in low-light conditions and don’t care about colors. These ipRGCs in our eyes are all about the intensity of light, not the color. Now, a 2019 study warned us that the artificial light from our devices throughout the day could mess up our sleep and overall health. But it’s not as simple as just blaming blue light. A single study isn’t the end-all, be-all. The big takeaway is that we need more work to figure out which aspects of screens at night mess with our sleep. This understanding will help designers make screens that won’t wreck our sleep.
Bright Light Not Effects Sleep?
Doctors says our internal circadian rhythms are super complex. There’s a master clock set by these melanopsin cells, which love blue light. But other things, like when we eat and exercise, can also affect this master clock. So, if you’re struggling to sleep regularly, one solution might be to use blue light-blocking glasses or change your screen settings. But Doctor suggests something even simpler – reduce your overall exposure to bright light.
A Dim light could mess with your sleep
Now, don’t get too excited. The study doesn’t mean you should scroll through your phone all night and expect to sleep like a baby. Doctor points out that the study’s setup might not match how most people deal with light in real life. The specially designed light exposure might not trigger the light-sensitive cells in our eyes, responsible for resetting our internal clock. In other words, saying blue light isn’t a big deal might be oversimplifying things. A bright yellow light could mess with your sleep just as much as a dim blue light.
Blue Light Effects On Sleep
If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are some tricks. Many devices have a low-light setting to reduce brightness, and blue-light blocking glasses can help too. Doctors suggests that the sharp contrasts and intensity of light may be the real culprits affecting our sleep schedules. So, while dimming the lights might help, the best practice is to avoid screens altogether before bedtime. It’s a small sacrifice for a good night’s sleep.
By Yashika Desai