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Cutting down on blue light exposure for a week could help teens sleep: study

Cutting down on blue light exposure for a week could help teens sleep: study
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Screen time before bed has become pervasive and a new study suggests it could be particularly detrimental for children and young teens. (junpinzon / shutterstock.com)

Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTVNews.ca Staff

Published Monday, May 20, 2019 5:44PM EDT

Do you know a teenager who is spending way too much time tossing and turning trying to sleep? They might be able to fix pretty that fairly quickly by cutting down on a common late-night habit.

Teenagers sleeping problems can be reversed by one week of limiting their evening smartphone use, according to findings released at the .

Dutch researchers found teenagers exposed to blue light from electronic devices for more than four hours at night tended to go to sleep 30 minutes later than teens who were only exposed for less than an hour.

They also found blue-light-blocking glasses led to teens going to sleep earlier on average.

Dr. Dirk Jan Stenvers from the Amsterdam University Medical Centre said as adolescents spend more time on their phones, their sleep complaints have also spiked.

Here we show very simply that these sleep complaints can be easily reversed by minimizing evening screen use or exposure to blue light, he said in a press release.

Previous studies have shown blue light emitting from devices such as tablets and laptops can mess with the brains internal clock and the sleep hormone melatonin all of which can disrupt quality sleep time.

Other findings have shown that besides the short-term effects of tiredness and poor concentration, lack of sleep can lead to serious long-term health issues including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

This most recent sleep research was conducted by scientists from the Netherlands Institute of Neuroscience, the Amsterdam UMC and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

Stenvers team wanted to better understand how real-life exposure is affecting teens sleep and if that could be reversed. Now, they want to explore any long-term effects of teens reducing their screen time and whether the same effects could be seen in adults too.

If we can introduce simple measures now to tackle this issue, we can avoid greater health problems in years to come, Stenvers said.
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