It’s increasingly popular to document every part of your day on social media. To post in “stories” every time you have a cup of coffee or “check-in” when you go to a specific event or place, right? This has become the social norm. But we’re finding out the hard way that there are several problems with this virtual reality.
The first problem with this is that we’re constantly checked OUT of what’s actually happening around us. We’re driving distracted, arguably not paying enough attention to our kids, who are usually also paying too much attention to their devices, etc. It’s hard to fully experience things with one hand! But without getting too far into the psycho-analytics of how social media impacts our individual self-esteem and productivity as a society, I’d like to talk about the impact this has on your body in terms of health and wellness.
Blue light. We’re constantly bombarded with it. We go to work and school with overhead lighting. We spend increasingly more time indoors under artificial lights. We check our emails every hour religiously and set up push-notifications on every app we have, just so we don’t miss anything, and at night we commonly spend more time on the computer or tablet, we watch tv to “relax,” etc, and yet a lot of us have trouble falling asleep at night.
Blue light is detrimental to us beginning with its effect on our levels of melatonin and therefore our sleep patterns. According to Harvard Health,
“While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).”
It seems this is all part of our fast-paced and very digital world, and thus it is “normal.” We drink in the opportunity to superficially connect with others by engaging in this sort of constant people watching and stream of consciousness posting, and if you don’t check your work emails and respond immediately, well the sky may fall, or worse- you could be out of a job.
The issue blue light time is creating is much larger than a change in our way of relating to one another though. The socio-cultural impact we’re seeing also includes more than an increase in diagnosed sleeping disorders; all this light is linked to anxiety and depression, behavioral challenges for kids like ADD and ADHD, and even increased risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
I’m sure you’ve heard some of these before, but some things you can do to combat the risks include avoiding looking at bright televisions, phones, and other screens at least 2 hours before bed. Set a screen time alarm to help with this if need be as a reminder. Use red lights as night lights, as they have the least power to suppress melatonin production and therefore less of a negative impact on your circadian rhythm. And last, but certainly not least, opt outside whenever possible. Expose yourself to plenty of bright light during the day to increase melatonin and your mood. Put the phone down and live life more often fully present- with BOTH HANDS. 😉