As kids go back to school, the focus shifts from fun summer activities such as going to the pool or beach, attending summer camp, and staying up late to watch summer blockbusters to once again focusing on schoolwork and getting back into a daily school year routine. Less outside time and more time in front of screens for homework and participation in social media mean more exposure to light emitted from device screens. Blue light filtering glasses can help foster good sleep habits. Proper sleep at every age plays an incredibly important role in helping students of all ages tackle the school year ahead, from elementary years to high school, and beyond.
Technology has become more and more prevalent in our lives, and many schools have incorporated the use of mobile devices as part of their regular daily courses. Kids spend a lot of time in front of screens between gaming, homework, and communicating with friends. Many children are now using multiple devices at once. They might use a phone for texting, a tablet for gaming, and a computer to complete homework assignments. But there are dangers with screen use, and they can interfere negatively with how a student performs in school.
Screen time has been proven to have a negative effect on both the duration and quality of sleep someone gets and sleep is further affected by what time of day the user is viewing the screen. Children of all ages can suffer significantly from the effects of a delayed bedtime due to screen usage. Parents not only have to set bedtimes but should also consider how and when kids are using screens as bedtime approaches.
Parents need to understand why it’s important to control screen access and monitor screen usage, particularly once the family has shifted back into school mode, as well as how to look for the negative effects associated with screen usage. Just as you try to guide your children to weather-appropriate clothing for the season, or pin ideas on Pinterest for healthy and creative packed lunches, screen time should be monitored and handled safely and effectively to prevent sleep disruption.
Eye Strain, Fatigue, and Improper Sleep
People look at screens for large chunks of their day. It is estimated kids spend an average of 6.5 hours a day looking at screens of some type, with teenaged boys spending the longest amount of time—up to 8 hours a day. Hours of screen time can contribute to digital eye strain, which causes dry eyes, headaches, difficulty focusing, fatigue, muscle spasms, and neck and shoulder pain. Chronic eye strain can lead to even more serious problems, like blurred or double vision, sleepiness, light sensitivity, and eyes that burn or feel gritty. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is how medical professionals define eye strain caused by the use of digital devices, and can occur with as little as a couple of hours a day of screen time, total. While many of the aforementioned problems experienced as a result of eye strain disappear once a person stops using a device, with prolonged usage sessions and exposure over time, these problems compound. Lack of sleep or good quality sleep, fatigue, neck pain and headaches can all cause poor performance at school the next day. Taking breaks to rest the eyes is not just important for rest, but to give your eyes a break from the exposure to blue light.
Computers, phones, tablets, and other mobile devices emit blue light, a short-wave light that we’re exposed to daily from sources including overhead lights and the sun. Small amounts can boost your mood and energy levels. But long-term exposure, along with looking at screens late into the evening hours, can lead to a host of problems, including melatonin disruption, which can interrupt proper sleep patterns. There are even studies being conducted that suggest long-term exposure can be a contributing factor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD)—sunlight exposure has already been determined to be a factor in AMD. Filtering out blue light while using devices, particularly in the evening hours, is very important to protect the quality and duration of sleep.
Sleep = Energy
It has been shown that the more that school-aged children use devices, particularly into the evening hours, the more their sleep, and even their health, is negatively affected. Screen use close to bedtime causes people to have more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and as a result, children end up getting much less quality sleep than is recommended for their age group. Sleep quality is very important for growing children to be able to function well in school. Blue light, in particular, suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland which is crucial for normal and adequate sleep. Even dim light can have a negative effect on melatonin production. Well-rested people of all ages have more energy, can deal with stress better, and learn more effectively than those who suffer from fatigue due to poor sleep practices.
Sleep needs can, of course, vary widely from person to person. But it’s important to note that it isn’t just the number of hours of sleep that’s relevant to next-day alertness, it’s the quality of the rest that each person gets which can determine how rested, energetic, and alert they feel the next day. Despite a wide range of needs, general guidelines were developed to give parents a range of hours to aim towards in ensuring their children get to bed in time to allow for adequate sleep. Many children may need more than even the maximum recommended for their age, and it’s important to be aware of and attuned to the needs of each child so that you can understand how getting a proper night’s sleep contributes to their school and behavioral performance, as well as to their overall health. Generally speaking, school-aged children can be in need of as much as 11 hours of solid sleep each night in order to perform at the top of their game. This includes ease of falling asleep, which is negatively affected by exposure to blue light.
A good night’s sleep doesn’t just mean feeling well-rested the next day. In children, human growth hormones can be negatively affected by not getting enough sleep, or getting enough high-quality sleep. Cognitive function is also negatively affected by lack of sleep—children literally cannot learn as effectively when they are functioning on less sleep than they need, and lack of sleep can inhibit short-term memory, a critical skill needed during school hours. It’s even been documented that children who sleep better get better grades. Finally, lack of sleep can also be a major contributing factor to negative behavioral traits, such as moodiness, depression, anger management, and general lack of motivation or energy needed to complete their daily tasks.
While there are many options for filtering out harmful light from your devices, tinted blue light glasses are one of the easiest and most effective to incorporate into daily life. bluwinx blue light filtering glasses are proven to filter out harmful light, reducing or eliminating the problems associated with prolonged exposure. They are available in a variety of attractive styles and shapes, including sizes that fit teens and children, and have the appearance of normal, everyday glasses.
There are other options for filtering on your devices, including apps and screen filters, but while these can reduce some of the light emitted from screens, they don’t address LED backlighting, which includes blue light waves as part of its white light display. bluwinx glasses filter out 59% of the peak digital device blue light wavelengths. If your child is showing signs of suffering from digital eye strain, consider using Bluwinx glasses in conjunction with another protective measure, such as a light filtering app or screen filter.
Regardless of how you use screens, and how well you are protected against the dangers of prolonged exposure, it’s important to take breaks regularly. Shoot for a goal of looking away from screens a minimum of every 20 minutes or so, to give the eyes a chance to recover and refocus on non-pixilated, real images. With rest, breaks, proper filtering glasses, and time limits on screen usage—particularly close to bedtime, students can use computers and mobile devices safely to text their friends, post to social media, or complete their homework on time.
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