Blue light stealing your family’s sleep

KLBK News

The number of internet-connected devices in each home is going up. A 2017 study finds that the modern home has 6.3 internet-connected devices.

It’s why the Jones family decided to have strict rules for how much time their children spend in front of screens.

“Our two younger sons are given 30-minutes per day that they can use once all of their chores are done. We give them a little bit more on the weekends,” said Tyrell Jones.

They also implemented a rule that they need to be off their devices at least an hour before bed time. When they do not, it’s noticeable.

“It’s a lot harder for them to wind down where they’re usually straight to sleep as soon as they’re in bed,” said Jones.

In fact experts recommend that all families do what the Jones do and make sure that everyone, even adults, are off devices before they go to bed.

But, that doesn’t mean that you or your children can just shift all of your screen time to the day.

“There was a study that was done with teenage girls and more screen time they had during the day, the more fragmented their sleep was,” said Dr. Christopher Rose, medical director of the Covenant medical sleep lab and board-certified in sleep medicine.

That study applies to every type of screen including cellphones, computers, tablets and televisions. Those devices all have modern LED lights. The culprit that inhibits your sleep: blue LEDs.

“There is a chemical in the retina of the eye called melanopsin, and the blue light in devices stimulates the production of melanopsin that then inhibits the body from making melatonin, or the chemical that makes you go to sleep,” said Dr. Rose.

Some easy rules to make sure your devices don’t steal your family sleep are don’t let your children go to bed with technology.

Then, be aware of how much sleep your children should be getting. Dr. Rose said said children 5 and under should get 11 hours of sleep, plus a nap.

Elementary and middle school age children should get 9 to 10 hours of sleep each night.

High school aged children should get a minimum of 9 hours, and adults should get between 7 to 8.

Rose said that knowing this information will allow you to know if devices are inhibiting you or your family’s sleep.

Another rule: Make a set time to put down devices.

“I recommend that parents have a basket that we call a charging basket. Then at a certain time of the day, an hour before bedtime for example, all devices go into the charging basket for the night,” said Dr. Rose.

Lastly, set up routines that allow your body to produce melatonin. Dr. Rose said to read an actual book with dim lights that will relax your body and your mind and allow your brain to function properly.

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