WEARING glasses that block out blue light before bed could help you sleep better after just one week, a new study suggests.
Exposure to bright screens, particularly from phones, computers and tablets, can affect the brain’s clock and the production of sleep hormone melatonin.
PA:Press Association Experts say that using computers and phones before bed can disrupt sleep, so they looked into ways of combating that and trialled specialist glasses
Experts say that’s because the blue light emitted from screens mimics the wavelength of light in the morning.
But a new study by researchers in Amsterdam found that wearing special glasses, which filter out blue light, had almost the same affect as completely switching devices off.
The scientists found that it took only seven days of cutting evening screen time to improve sleep in young people.
Screen use in adolescents strongly associates with reduced sleep quality and sleep durationDr Dirk Jan StenversAmsterdam UMC
Dr Dirk Jan Stenvers, from the department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Amsterdam UMC explained: “Adolescents spend much time using blue-light emitting screen devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers.
“Blue light affects the central circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) as well as melatonin secretion by the pineal gland.
“Screen use in adolescents strongly associates with reduced sleep quality and sleep duration.
“However, there is a lack of intervention studies that reduce blue light exposure due to screen use in adolescents.”
Blue light exposure
Researchers from the Netherlands Institute of Neuroscience, Amsterdam UMC and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, investigated the effects of blue light exposure on people aged 12 to 17 at home.
The team conducted a randomised controlled trial to assess the effects of blocking blue light with glasses and no screen time during the evening on the sleep pattern of 25 frequent users.
Both blocking blue light with glasses and cutting screen time resulted in sleep onset and wake up times occurring 20 minutes earlier, and a reduction in reported symptoms of sleep loss in participants, after just one week.
It is likely that adolescent sleep complaints and delayed sleep onset are at least partly mediated by blue light from screensDr Dirk Jan StenversAmsterdam UMC
Dr Stenvers added: “Adolescents increasingly spend more time on devices with screens and sleep complaints are frequent in this age group.
“Here we show very simply that these sleep complaints can be easily reversed by minimising evening screen use or exposure to blue light.
“Based on our data, it is likely that adolescent sleep complaints and delayed sleep onset are at least partly mediated by blue light from screens.”
Dr Stenvers and his colleagues are now interested in whether the relationship between reduced screen time and improved sleep has longer lasting effects, and whether the same effects can be detected in adults.
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Dr Stenvers said: “Sleep disturbances start with minor symptoms of tiredness and poor concentration but in the long-term we know that sleep loss is associated with increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
“If we can introduce simple measures now to tackle this issue, we can avoid greater health problems in years to come.”
The findings were presented at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting ECE 2019 in Lyon.
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