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Is Blue Light From Your Phone Disrupting Your Sleep? What We Know

A lot of people think that the light from screens on phones, tablets, and computers can mess up our normal circadian rhythms. Because of this, a whole business has grown up around “sleep hygiene.”

Blue Light From Your Phone Disrupting Your Sleep

A lot of people think that the light from screens on phones, tablets, and computers can mess up our normal circadian rhythms. Because of this, a whole business has grown up around “sleep hygiene.”

What is blue light?

But a new study says that a Trusted Source, published last month in the journal Nature, shows that the type of light these devices give off, called “blue light,” may not be as harmful as was thought before.

Their research looked at the “effects of calibrated blue-yellow changes in light on the human circadian clock.” Before the 16 people went to sleep for the night, researchers showed them three kinds of light for an hour.

Scientists who wrote the study used blue-dim, yellow, and constant white background/control light. They found “no conclusive evidence for an effect of calibrated silent-substitution changes in light color along the blue-yellow axis on the human circadian clock or sleep.”

In general, light can make it hard to sleep, but maybe not in the way that modern gadgets have been seen to do in recent years.

What is the effect of light on sleep patterns?

A group of cones, rods, and “so-called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells” (ipRGCs) in the eye turn light into electrical signals. Cones, which respond to bright light, change the blue light that short-wavelength devices like smartphones and tablets emit to blue. Rod cells, on the other hand, only work in low light and can’t tell the difference between colors.

Rather than color, the ipRGCs in the eye get information about how bright the light is. They also keep the body’s natural circadian rhythms in check.

The ipRGCs-produced photopigment melanopsin regulates melatonin reduction at night. It seems that the color of light might change these regular circadian rhythms and make it harder or easier for people to fall asleep or stay asleep.

A study from 2019, “mistimed light exposure,” which includes artificial light from the devices we use all day, found that it could be bad for our health and sleep.

Neurosurgeon and optometrist Dr. Alexander Solomon of the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica said that the way our brains change their internal circadian rhythms is a very complicated process.

These melanopsin cells (again, they are most responsive to blue light) set a master “clock.” But Solomon told us that other things, like when you eat and exercise, can also change that master clock. “I think that if someone is having trouble sleeping and waking up at regular times that work for them, one thing that could help is to use blue light-blocking glasses or change the settings on their phone or computer screen so that they don’t let as much bright light in.”

Should you avoid using your phone right before bed?

Solomon said that the study’s results don’t mean that people who use their phones before bed will sleep well. Solomon pointed out that the study might not show how most people really feel about light.

Solomon explained that the lighting conditions used in the study were selected so as not to affect the light-sensitive cells in our eyes that are known to reset our circadian cycle. This is because the lighting conditions in real life are different.

“It’s not true that blue light doesn’t play as big of a role; this cell is sensitive to it.” It just means that a bright yellow light can have the same effect as a dim blue light.

Neuroscientist Keiland Cooper, Ph., from the University of California, Irvine, said that the new study only shows that we need to do more research to understand fully how these devices affect our health.

“One study by itself rarely concludes,” Cooper said. “The main thing we can learn from this study is that we need to do more research to find out exactly what about screens at night makes us sleep worse.” “Knowing exactly how screens affect our brains is important because it will help device designers and manufacturers figure out what parts of their screens can be changed to help users sleep and lessen the negative effects of using our devices.”

Read More: 10 Best Health Benefits of Morning Walk

How can you get better sleep?

There are a lot of gadgets with a “low light” setting that can make the light less bright, and blue-light-blocking glasses can cut down on the short-wavelength waves you see before bed.

But Solomon pointed out that big differences in how much light we are exposed to and how often we are exposed to it may be a big part of how our bodies set our sleep schedules and how often we sleep.

“After a long period of darkness, light has the best chance to set our circadian rhythm.” For instance, research has shown that shift workers who work overnight and see the sun on their way home (again, not a blue light, but a bright light) have a lot more trouble sleeping on time than those who get home before sunrise, Solomon said.

“I don’t think the average person needs to think about it too much unless they are having trouble adapting to their goal sleep/wake times or are feeling too sleepy during the day.” Many other things besides light exposure can make it hard to sleep. It might help to see a sleep expert or hygienist before blaming one of those things.

According to many studies, the best way to clean your screens before bed is to stay away from them altogether, even if lowering the brightness of the light helps.


Recently, it was thought that “screen time” before bed could mess up your natural circadian rhythms. However, it’s still not clear how much of a problem the light from phones and computers can be. A new study says it’s not clear that blue light is worse for sleep than other types of light.

Even so, cutting down on computer time before bed is still a good idea since it could cause problems.

A lot more study needs to be done to understand how blue light affects our bodies fully.

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