*Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice. Seek the guidance of a physician if you have any questions.*
In current times, technological advances combined with the evolution of social media, online shopping, and file-sharing have transformed how the world uses cellular phones. Everyone is always on the phone, and several statistics show just how much Americans use their phones. Check out some jaw-dropping statistics surrounding cell phones use below:
- Most cell phone users check their phones up to 63 times daily.
- Americans spend about 5.4 hours on their cell phones daily.
- Currently, there are 272.6 million smartphone users in America.
- Social media is responsible for 2 hours and 24 minutes of global internet time spent online by an average user daily.
- 13% of millennials spend over 12 hours on their phones daily.
- Most people check their phones around 63 times a day.
- Baby Boomers spend 5 hours using their phones.
- Millennials spend 48 minutes texting every day.
What is Night Mode?
Most digital devices offer a setting that decreases screen brightness and reduces eye strain, called night mode or dark mode. It simply shows a black background with white or lighter-colored text instead of featuring a predominantly white background with black or dark-colored text. The darkness of the screen with lighter colored text typically shifts the lighter colors towards pink and red instead of blue. Night mode is thought to reduce glare and help the eyes adjust more easily to surrounding light, leading to less eye strain and easier, comfortable reading.
Why Do People Choose Night Mode?
Sometimes, when a person is exposed to brighter lights at night, their body may react as if they have been exposed to sunlight. What does this mean? The brain stops producing melatonin, the sleep hormone, making the person feel more awake. On the other hand, the warm colors of night mode do not confuse the body about what time it is and make it easier to fall asleep than looking at a device using a regular display mode. In addition to disrupting the sleep cycle, too bright of a screen in a dark room may cause digital eye strain. Night mode reduces the stark contrast between the screen and darkroom, ultimately reducing eye strain.
Recent Studies Says Night Mode Does Not Help
Experts have begun analyzing empirical data to find out whether night mode works. Recently, scholars conducted a study using a sample of 167 adults recruited from a Western University to see if night mode helped them sleep better. The results contradicted everything that had been said about night mode assisting a person in sleep. The results “were no significant differences in sleep outcomes across the three experimental groups.” Other scholars followed suit in conducting their own research to find out if night mode was beneficial or not. Findings in a study led by Dr. Tim Brown and published in Current Biology support the notion that night mode does not help. Their research involved using mice but found that blue light does not disrupt sleep. Ironically, they found that warm yellow light is worse for a person’s body than blue light.
Why did we think Night Mode Helped?
So, why did companies think reducing blue light on digital devices would help everyone sleep better? According to Dr. Tim Brown, “There was a valid scientific idea about why those things would work,” says Brown. It started about 20 years ago to discover the role that melanopsin – a light-sensitive protein found in the eye – plays in regulating the body clock.
The melanopsin system is present to detect brightness. Some experts thought that because melanopsin was better at detecting short-wavelength photons, it favored blue light. It is the retina’s cone cells that determine color. Dr. Brown stated, “the cone system also plays a role, [but] they’re doing the opposite of what most people thought.”
How Does Technology Affect Children’s Sleep?
About 72% of children sleep with at least one digital device in their bedroom. One survey conducted by Common Sense found that about 39% of children keep their phones close to their beds. Also, about 7 out of 10 children peek at their phone within 30 minutes of falling asleep.
The National Sleep Foundation found that children who sleep with their cell phones and tablets get less sleep than other children. It’s estimated that children who sleep with their devices lose up to an hour a night. Studies have found that teenagers who sleep with their phones get about 30 minutes less sleep than teenagers who turn off their cell phones.
Since there are so many adverse effects of technology on health, parents should set specific rules about its use before bedtime. Here are a few tips on how you can improve your child’s sleep quality:
- Parents should develop a healthy bedtime ritual, like reading before bed. Several studies show that reading to young children brings a multitude of benefits.
- Parents should explain the relationship between technology and sleep to their children and discuss the importance of a good night’s rest. If the child understands how technology interferes with their sleep, they will more likely make a good decision.
- Parents should help their children prioritize sleep. Parents can try reorganizing their schedules so they can finish everything a bit earlier.
- Children pay attention to their parents, and if they see that their parents are prioritizing their sleep, it will make them want to get more sleep.
It is no secret that Americans are spending more and more time on their digital devices. However, advances in technology move so fast that sometimes scholars fall behind in researching the negative and positive effects of technology. Therefore, features like night mode may be thought of one way until empirical data proves otherwise. The best way to improve sleep when dealing with technology is to limit the time spent using technology.