28 Sep How Screen Time Effects Your Health
We’ve all heard about the negative effects too much screen time can have on our health, particularly for children. For spinal posture, it is a huge concern, with many hours on end spent looking down at our phones, iPads or computers. We’re noticing children have neck pain, headaches and changes in their spinal curvatures. However have you heard about the long term effects screen time can have on your health? Listed below are some of theses effects and a few tips to help reduce the severity of this problem.
Too much screen time may damage your brain:
Recent research has showed that the grey matter of the brain can atrophy (shrink), and a loss of integrity to the white matter of the brain causing a loss in communication within the brain. Loss of cognitive function may also occur.
Have trouble sleeping? It could be due to the amount of screen time:
In a study of 10,000 16 to 19-year-olds, researchers in Norway found that the longer a young person spent looking at an electronic screen before going to bed, the worse quality sleep they were likely to have. Those who spent more than four hours a day looking at screens had a 49 per cent greater risk of taking longer than an hour to fall asleep and were three and a half times more likely to sleep for under five hours a night.
It does seem that we are exposed to more light in general these days, not just from our phones and devices, but also the bright fluorescent lights at work and/or home.
The biochemistry of the body changes depending on the light (or lack of) that we are exposed to. When we want to sleep, it’s best to dim the lights, limit screen time as this aids in the production of the hormone melatonin (which is important for sleep, the immune system and healing). When we wake in the morning – ideally, it’s best to have exposure to the sunlight to stop the production of melatonin and increase the production of serotonin (which can affect mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep and memory).
Excessive screen time may be linked to increase risk of metabolic syndrome:
For example, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. This particular finding comes from a 2008 study of adolescents, but its thinking still seems to hold true for people of other ages.
We are more prone to eye strain:
Blue light from screens isn’t just keeping us awake; it may also damage the retina, and eye strain from too much device use is increasing.
So some tips to minimise the effects of screen time:
- Ideally, it’s best to limit the screen time, particularly an hour before bed.
- Dim the lights in the home in the evening to help the body wind down.
- If you absolutely must keep using your devices in the evening, try the following:
- Download the App F.lux for your laptop – this app alters the light on your screen depending on if the sun is up or has set. I find this particularly helpful if I am working on my computer in the evening.
- If you have an iPhone 6, there’s now a “Night Shift” setting, which has the same effect as F.lux does on your laptop. I’ve set mine to automatically switch to night shift at 8pm.
- If reading on an iPad or Kindle at night, dim the light setting to as low as it will go.
- Aim to have your reading light slightly behind you rather than on top of you.
I hope these tips help you towards a better nights sleep, more energy and most importantly more interaction with the world around you!
- Psychology today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain