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New smart phone updates developed to help sleep deprivation due to long exposure to screens

Turning on night mode or similar apps on phones may help students mitigate the effects of blue light on sleep cycles. Photo by Chelsea Powrie.

Reported by Chelsea Powrie

Students who can’t avoid screen time before bed may get a better sleep with the help of new programs that regulate screen glare.

Studies show that it’s important to limit screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime in order to get a better sleep.

Harvard study reveals negative effect of screens

Harvard University neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang discovered in 2012 (updated in 2015) that blue light in particular has negative effects on a human’s circadian rhythm, the natural hormonal change that tells the body when to sleep.

Cell and laptop screens emit mostly blue light, since they are designed to mimic daylight, which sends the wrong message late at night.

New Apple updates helps lighten the load on students’ eyes

Spending time hooked up to laptop screens and cellphones is a staple activity for students on Langara campus during the day, but using those screens at night may affect sleep patterns. Photo by Chelsea Powrie.

Luckily for busy students, the newest operating system updates on Apple products include an optional “night shift” mode, which limits the screen’s blue light emissions, changing the glow to a pink-orange. Some Android phones also come with a similar “night mode” program.

“Too much screen time in the time before you go to bed certainly [causes] an increase in how long it takes people to fall asleep, and also how long they stay asleep,” said Dr. Carolyn Gotay of the UBC faculty of medicine.

Not enough sleep may ruin more than just sleeping patterns

Lack of sleep can have serious consequences.

Gotay said there are links between chronic diseases and sleep deprivation, and on a day-to-day basis, students who aren’t getting proper sleep may have trouble in class.

“It has cognitive effects. We find kids don’t do as well on exams when they are fatigued,” Gotay said.

Unfortunately, avoiding screens before bed is not always an option for students.

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