Blue light, cigarettes and our bodies

Photo by Blake Israel

In the 1930s and 1940s, cigarettes grew in popularity and were considered to be healthy. 

They were often recommended by doctors and physicians and many people got hooked without knowing the consequences. 

It wasn’t until the 1960s that evidence suggested that smoking was actually harmful to users and could cause serious problems. 

We all know today that smoking can lead to various forms of cancer, lower quality of life for users and may lead to premature death. 

However, there may be some items we use daily that might be causing problems that we aren’t aware of or don’t think are a big deal. 

I believe blue light may be an example of something that is causing more harm than people think. 

Humans have been exposed to blue light for all of mankind but in recent years we have stepped up our exposure to it a lot. 

The largest source of blue light to this day is the sun, but most people don’t usually look right at the sun and use sunglasses when it is very bright outside. 

In more recent history, humans are being exposed to a lot of blue light from their screens connected to their devices.

Although the consequences of this newfound issue are probably not as bad as smoking, I think our increasing use of technologies emitting blue light may be doing some harm.

Blue light is responsible for causing eye strain and has been traced to cause cancers in the eye. 

In addition to these obvious potential side effects, there are other hormonal changes that occur in our bodies when we have been exposed to blue light. 

The primary hormonal change creating negative problems when exposed to blue light is the suppression of the hormone melatonin. 

Melatonin is what is responsible for making us feel drowsy and regulating our sleep cycle. 

Melatonin is released naturally when the body senses it is dark outside or in your environment, and the use of blue-light emitting screens is throwing our body’s rhythm off and negatively impacting our sleep patterns and quality. 

This is the primary reason I think these screens are causing more harm than people realize. 

There are numerous side effects to not getting enough sleep that can significantly lower the health of an individual. 

In the short term, sleep loss can affect your physical performance by lowering your reaction time, balance, energy levels and endurance. 

Mentally, a lack of sleep is responsible for not being able to focus or concentrate and can increase the amount of time it takes to solve problems. 

But, these short-term issues are not the ones that make a lack of quality sleep comparable to the effect of cigarettes. 

If a person is unable to get consistent sleep and is consequently tired often, they are more likely to be depressed, develop diabetes or have a major cardiac event. 

In addition, people who sleep less typically have a harder time losing weight and become obese while also being more susceptible to disease as the immune system is weakened on days with less rest. 

One major difference between cigarettes and screen time is that doctors aren’t recom mending that you spend a lot of time on devices or looking at screens. 

But, I do know that screens are an integral part of our lives as students because we use computers, phones, projectors and TVs every single day. 

Everyone should know about the impacts that blue light can have on their sleep, which has an effect on their health. 

Some simple ways to reduce exposure to blue light and ensure you aren’t experiencing the negative effects are to make sure you limit the use of screens before you go to bed, use projectors if possible (since the blue light won’t be pointed directly at you this way), purchase blue light filtering glasses and, in general, try to limit your screen time overall.