The New Habit Making America Sick
Technology can be wonderful. New technologies can save time… and lives.
For example, computers have made my job much easier. If I need to see a patient’s CAT scan, I don’t have to request a copy from the hospital. I can sit at my desk and call it up on my computer.
I can hold a teleconference with another doctor halfway around the world. And we can share documents and patient notes in real time. And my patients can access almost limitless health information via the Internet.
But for all its benefits, technology can hide a dark side. And a team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) recently uncovered one.
The new compact tablet computers are fantastically popular. They’re not as versatile or powerful as a “real” computer. But they can perform many useful functions. And for many people, they’re the perfect carry-along device.
Tablets have larger screens than smart phones, so it’s easier to read on them. They display much larger pages with ease. And they can do almost anything a smart phone can do. Even make phone calls, under some circumstances.
But the beautiful backlit screens on these tablets also present a possible danger. Here’s what the RPI researchers discovered…
These backlit screens emit a lot of short-wavelength light. And scientists know that light’s shorter wavelengths can affect hormones.
So the RPI team split volunteers into 3 groups. The first group used a tablet computer while wearing goggles illuminated by LEDs giving off blue – short wavelength – light. The second group wore tinted glasses that block short-wavelength light. The third group wore no goggles or glasses.
Each volunteer also wore a small light meter near their eyes. These meters measured the actual amount of light reaching their eyes.
If you have a tablet computer, the chances are good you use it the way many people do. It’s become an important device for communication and entertainment.
In the evening, people use their tablets to read… to watch movies or television programs… or to catch up on social media pages. It’s not uncommon for people to spend several hours in the evening staring at their tablet’s screen.
In fact, a lot of people take their tablets to bed with them to read or watch a movie. And that’s where the RPI team discovered we’re creating health problems for ourselves.
According to their study, spending two hours with your tablet could suppress your melatonin levels by up to 22%.1 And melatonin is the hormone that signals your body it’s time to sleep.
Lowering your melatonin levels could mean you’ll lie awake much longer before getting to sleep. Or sleep less soundly.
That may not sound like a big deal, but poor sleep habits have been linked to blood sugar trouble, obesity and – over time – to even more serious health problems.
Of course, not all uses of a tablet computer produce the same amount of light. But here are a few simple guidelines that can help you ensure your tablet doesn’t interfere with a good night’s sleep…
- Reserve your bed for sleep. Don’t read or watch movies in bed.
- Don’t use your tablet computer close to bedtime. And keep your evening use down to a minimum.
- Set the brightness on your tablet’s screen to the lowest level that’s comfortable for your eyes. Lower settings produce less short-wavelength light.
Yours in good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Wood, B., et al, “Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression,” Applied Ergonomics. Jul 31, 2012. Published online before print.
The FDA has not evaluated these statements. None of the information or products discussed are intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate or cure any disease.