Don’t even answer. We know the vast majority of you are going to say yes. If you’re like most people in America, your smartphone is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night. You probably don’t think too much about it, I mean you’re just checking your email and playing a quick level of Angry Birds.
You may want to resist that urge. More and more studies are showing that using your smartphone or tablet in bed can damage your vision and your overall health.
Smartphones are one of the most important inventions of the 21st century. They connect us to loved ones, our favorite celebrities, our favorite books, TV shows, cooking recipes; whatever you’re looking for, your smartphone knows where to find it.
That being said, that doesn’t mean they can’t harm us. In fact, smartphone use in bed and in dark settings is already proving to be something of a danger to our vision health. A recent surge in conditions like transient smartphone blindness, lack of sleep, and retinal damage due to blue light are all being linked to smartphone use in bed.
New Technologies, New Problems
With new technologies, we experience new problems. Remember when earphones came out? People didn’t know how to appropriately use these earphones in a way that wouldn’t harm their ears. As a result, plenty of people would listen to music far too loud and over time, they lost their hearing.
We see the same pattern emerging with smartphones. We can’t get enough of them and we have no idea how to use them. Sure, you may know all the shortcuts to the apps; double tap, triple tap; tap, tap, tap. None of that will do you any good if you aren’t aware of the dangers of smartphones.
The most pressing danger we face with smartphones is our compulsive need to use them in bed. There are a two main reasons why we should put our phones down before hitting the hay: the brightness and the blue light.
The brightness of your screen in contrast to the darkness of your bedroom at night is harming your eyes more than you realize. Aside from tiring your eyes out, two women reported experiencing temporary blindness in one eye after using their smartphone in bed.
This new form of temporary blindness has been labeled by doctors, transient smartphone blindness. The two women experienced similar symptoms, saying that they experienced blindness in one eye for about 15 minutes almost every day.
As this is also a symptom of a stroke, doctors were skeptical to dismiss it as something less serious. However, upon realizing that neither of the women were suffering from a stroke, doctors found that they had one thing in common: their habit of using their smartphone in bed.
From there it was an easy link for doctors, who then discovered that the blindness they were experiencing was due to the brightness of the screen and the darkness of the room.
Both women admitted that when using their smartphones in bed, they often lie on their sides, with one eye being covered by the pillow and the other staring at the screen. When they did this, the “dark” eye would adjust to the dark, while the “light” eye would adjust to the light of the smartphone.
This is what gave the illusion of blindness. Their eyes were adjusted to two different lightings, making it seem like one had gone blind. The eye that had been adjusted to the light was the one that had lost its vision, but regained it once it had adjusted to the dark.
If you’re going to use your phone in the dark, make sure to use both eyes to avoid transient smartphone blindness. But that’s only if you absolutely need to use it, otherwise you’re better off never using your smartphone in bed.
The Blue Light
We all know that anything artificial is almost certainly bad for you. Artificial sweeteners? No thanks, I’ll stick to my honey and agave. But artificial foods aren’t the only artificial things that can severely impact our health. Artificial lights can also harm our vision and mess with our sleep cycle.
We won’t go into explaining blue light (visible light is quite complex), but it’s important to know that it’s the last visible light on the spectrum before ultraviolet rays or UV rays. That, in itself, says enough about how dangerous blue light can be since we already know how UV rays can burn our eyes and cause retinal and corneal damage.
Blue light has the highest energy of all the visible light, which means it is the brightest. Isn’t bright light exactly what you want for your smartphone? I mean if you’re going to use it as a flashlight, you want the screen as bright as it can be.
Here’s the problem: blue light can cause severe eye strain that will prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Have you ever tried falling asleep with a bad headache? It’s unpleasant and will most likely leave you restless throughout the night.
The same can happen when you try falling asleep with strained eyes. After a long day of work, you need to rest. Well so do your eyes. But by using your smartphone in bed, you take that downtime away from your eyes and they never get a chance to truly defocus and unwind. When they can’t do that, they’ll keep you up all night.
Not only that, but when you wake up in the morning, you’ll have heavy eyes that haven’t been well rested. You may even have trouble focusing and seeing in the morning for 10 minutes after waking up.
We’ve already established that you probably use your smartphone in bed. Now you need to ask yourself, “Will I continue to use it in bed?” Are the risks that smartphone use in bed pose really worth it? Can your scrabble game wait until the morning?
Changing your smartphone use habits in as easy as setting it down, turning off the lights, and getting some much needed shut eye.