We all know that children need a lot of sleep to grow and develop and that they shouldn’t stay up late playing on their devices. But did you know that the lights from these devices can actually have a negative effect on their sleep?
Blue light from screens and monitors interferes with the body’s biological clock interfering with the sleep cycle. Children’s sleep quality deteriorated as technology became more influential in daily life. Sleep deprivation affects almost one-third of children and more than half of teens.
Blue Light and Melatonin
Blue light is a type of light that has the shortest wavelength in the visible spectrums with a frequency range known as ultraviolet-A (UVA). Blue light is energetic in nature and the most essential regulator of our circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is found in the brain. The main function of melatonin is to control our sleep-wake cycle – also known as the circadian rhythm – and regulate it in such a way that at night when it’s time to sleep we are tired and sleepy, but during daylight hours when it’s not time to sleep we carry no drowsiness or tiredness.
Exposure to blue light from the sun or other sources is a good stimulator of energy and concentration during the day. It has also been found to improve the quality and length of sleep. However, in the evening and at night, utilizing devices that emit artificial blue light disturbs our natural sleep-wake cycle by tricking the brain into not generating melatonin. We are less sleepy than we should be at bedtime as a result of this.
Both children and adults are affected by the effects of light on melatonin production and sleep. Children, on the other hand, maybe considerably more susceptible to light. The structures in our eyes become less receptive to light as we age. Evening light exposure decreased melatonin twice as much in children compared to adults, according to a study.
How Does Sleep Loss Affects Children?
The effects of sleep loss in children have been a subject of extensive research over the past few decades. Studies have found that reduced sleep in children can affect the health of a child and lead to lifelong issues. Some of the effects that lack of sleep can have are lack of concentration, poor behavior, and lack of learning among other things.
How Can You Reduce Exposure to Blue Light in Your Children?
Making sure that your children get enough sleep every night is vital to the child’s mental and physical health. Here are some actions you can take to reduce the exposure to blue light in your children.
- Use Anti Blue Light Glasses – these glasses have blue light blocking coating features that filter artificial blue light from digital screens.
- Limit Screen Time – Schedule a time that ceases the use of digital screens before bedtime. An alarm can be used to remind a child to switch off screens at a specified time.
- Reduce Screen Brightness – Reduce the amount of blue light on digital screens by minimizing the screen brightness. You can switch it to night mode or dark mode to change the screen background.
Help your teen or child be aware of the harmful effects of blue light on sleep. Remind them that quality sleep is essential for physical and emotional health.