It is no surprise that people today are not getting enough sleep, especially teenagers. According to scientists, people aged 13 to 18 years old need between 9 and 9½ hours of sleep, but are only receiving on average 7 to 7¼ hours of sleep.
Three important things happen while people are asleep. Their brains recharge, their cells repair themselves, and their bodies release important hormones. By not receiving enough sleep, bodies cannot fully recharge, causing people to be more tired when waking up.
Besides large homework loads and extracurricular activities, technology also has a huge impact on the amount of sleep people get, especially teenagers. People today are likely to stay up late scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, or texting their friends the latest meme. However, once those phones are put away, it still affects our sleep.
A messed-up sleep schedule leads to many different health problems. These include, but are not limited to: retina damage; cataracts, the clouding of a normally clear lens of the eye; an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, obesity, and depression; and memory loss. It also makes it harder to learn and stay focused.
Cell phones and televisions are light-emitting devices. The light they emit however is not the same as the light from the sun or from a light bulb. Cell phones and televisions emit blue light. Blue light affects melatonin levels in the body more than any other light, making it harder for people to fall asleep.
Harvard University neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang examined the effects of reading on a light-emitting device compared with reading a printed book in 2014 with a few of her colleagues. They discovered that “participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep (the phase when we dream) and had higher alertness before bedtime than those people who read printed books. [They] also found that after an eight-hour sleep episode, those who read on the light-emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up.”
Telling people in 2016 to not be on their phones most of the time is not an easy task. Apple’s latest update, however, is trying to find a solution to the problem. This update includes a new setting called “Night Shift.”
Night Shift uses clocks and locations to determine when the sun sets where people live. At that time, it automatically changes the colors of the phone screen, going from the typical blue light to colors on the warmer end of the color spectrum, like orange. In the morning, it automatically returns to its normal state.
Looking at phones before sleeping is a bad idea, no matter what. The new update will not be the great solution to all phone-related sleep issues. However, the new update is a positive change that can help lessen the effects blue-light has on people.