Your Phone May be Ruining Your Sleep

Photo of author

( — February 11, 2016) — Poor sleep is a common problem, one that cuts across all groups – every night, millions of people lie awake, staring into the dark. Doctors say we’re supposed to spend one third of our lives asleep on our mattresses, but for those who find this statistic a distant dream, it may come as a surprise that the source of your sleep dysfunction may be in your hand right now.

Cell phones and other blue light emitting devices have the ability to wreck even well-structured sleep. You can drink endless cups of tea, refrain from eating after dinner, or skip that late nap, but while you’re still tied to your phone, you’ll continue to struggle. Our constant blue light exposure is wreaking havoc on our ability to get some shuteye.

The Blue Light Problem

The main reason that blue light emitting devices disrupt your sleep – whether it’s your phone, your computer screen, or even your television – is that nighttime light exposure can interfere with the brain’s production of melatonin. Melatonin regulates your body’s day-night cycle, known as your circadian rhythm. While some take melatonin supplements to deal with sleep deprivation, avoiding blue light is a healthier option in the long term.

The First Blue Light Fixes

As blue light became more prominent among our daily device use, many doctors recognized that this type of light was causing health problems, including sleep issues and severe headaches. Some even prescribed blue light blocking glasses to their patients to quell debilitating side effects from the light.

And while these severe reactions remained relatively rare, for those not protected by these filtered lenses less noticeable but still damaging effects remained. Still fighting sleep disruption and fatigue, Apple users turned to an older Mac app called F.lux in order to shift the light emitted by their devices. F.lux was barred in November, however, a move many saw as foreshadowing an official move by Apple around the blue light problem, though Android users continue to have access to F.lux.

Apple Responds To Sleep Struggles

As the leading force in the smartphone and tablet industry, Apple is responding to the increase in sleep problems among iPhone and iPad users with its most recent iOS update. The much-awaited iOS 9.3 update will come with a new app called “Night Shift.”

“Night Shift” will allow users to change the light settings on their phone, particularly by changing the overall balance of light from blue and white to red and orange towards the end of the day. This allows your phone’s light patterns to reflect natural light. Though it’s still being beta tested, the hope is that this shift will help the brain to produce melatonin appropriately without forcing users to drop their phones when the sun goes down.

Amazon’s Answer

In addition to the upcoming iOS 9.3, Amazon has responded to the demand for blue light blocking technology by adding the “Blue Shade” feature to Amazon Fire tablets. This was an especially important move by Amazon as their e-reader tablets are commonly used to read in bed, since they supply their own light. Without the “Blue Shade” feature, you might get a lot more reading done, but you probably wouldn’t feel very well in the morning.

The Pervasive Nature Of Blue Light

If you spend a lot of time at the computer or staring at a portable screen, you may be suffering from unnoticed effects of blue light. Luckily, most manufacturers are now taking the effects of blue light seriously. Soon, there should be light modifying apps on all of your devices. Take advantage of them for your health.