Electronic devices are an unavoidable part of modern life. But along with their advantages, there are definite drawbacks including weight gain.
What is blue light?
Blue light is actually everywhere and sunlight is the main source, which means we are constantly being exposed to it. The ‘unnatural’ version of this light is also emitted by man-made devices like TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, laptops, LED and fluorescent lights. Obviously, the amount of blue light discharged by devices is nothing compared to the sun, but the problem is that we are constantly looking at a screen from morning to night, and at such close proximity.
What does overexposure to blue light cause?
On average, we spend almost four hours on our smartphones. Add to that time spent looking at a screen for work, watching TV and random moments on a tablet and most of us are exposed to between six and eleven hours daily. This can lead to complications including affecting eyesight, causing mental and physical fatigue, back and neck ache, and an increased risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes.
The most obvious symptom of overexposure to blue light is when our Circadian (sleep-wake cycle) rhythm is affected due to the suppression of melatonin (hormone that regulates sleeping and waking up). Too much blue light can make your body think it is day time. Leading a busy life is already detrimental to our sleep patterns and screen time exacerbates this.
This leads to the question of weight gain being linked to bad sleeping habits and not having enough hours of proper rest. Studies have shown that women who slept with the TV or a light on, or spent time on a screen at bedtime, gained weight over a period of time – on average five kilos or more over five years. There are other factors that contribute to this including diet, fitness levels and lifestyle habits.
Unfortunately, we are all guilty of keeping a device next to us in the bedroom. The norm is to have the smartphone and the usual excuses of saying it is for the alarm to wake up, to hear the phone in case it rings or to have that last sneaky peek at various social media platforms. We know it is wrong and a habit that is incredibly difficult to break.
How to avoid and protect yourself from blue light overexposure
- Plan to stay off your devices two hours before going to bed – this includes TV. Avoid having a TV in your room and put tablets and laptops away by a certain time. Set your alarm and put the phone away.
- Go old-school and read a book before bed. It is better for your eyesight and may even make you fall asleep quicker.
- Make your room as comfortable and dark as possible. Create an environment conducive to sleep, i.e. blackout curtains, devices away from the bed, comfortable temperature.
- Get a pair of blue light glasses that protect your eyes by blocking harmful wavelengths caused by the blue light, and use them especially when working on the computer.