Special Report: Blue light dangers - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Special Report: Blue light dangers

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Mommy blogger Titania Jordan tosses and turns for hours each night, and she thinks she knows why.

"From about 7pm 'til midnight, I am in front of a screen. I'm on the computer; I'm on my mobile device."

And according to Dr. Joseph Leuschke, Jordan is on to something.

"It's a very unnatural thing for us to do, and so when we expose ourselves to light at night, we tell the brain that it's daytime."

We're flooded with light long after the sun sets, whether we're texting, e-mailing, or catching up on television. Harvard University researcher, Dr. Steven Lockley, says the blue light shifts our internal body clock, or circadian rhythm. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says it's important to raise a red flag about blue wavelengths, the kind emitted by energy efficient light bulbs and electronic gadgets.

Lockley reports, "We know that blue light has the greatest propensity to alter circadian rhythms, and yet now-a-days it seems that blue is the color du jour."

In fact, a recent poll revealed that 95% of Americans use electronics a few nights a week, within an hour before bed. Dr. Lockley says even dim light can be problematic.

"We've done a number of studies to show that light levels that you would be normally exposed to in the home in the evening, for example from a bedside lamp, are very easily capable of shifting the body clock."

And research shows our health may be at risk. Studies have linked blue light and poor sleep to depression, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems, and that isn't all.

"Shift workers have been found to have about a 50% to 60% increased risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men."

Leuschke says the solution for healthy sleep starts with timing.

"If you must have screen time before going to bed then limiting the amount of light that's emitted from the screen would be helpful, so you can turn down the brightness."

We asked Titania to cut back on screen time, and she says the results were eye opening.

"It was fabulous. I didn't go to sleep right away, but I found myself feeling much more relaxed."

Small changes that can make a drastic difference in your health.

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