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    Blue Light and Your Health

    The average person is awake for approximately 15-18 hours a day. However, the average adult spends about 11 hours of that day staring at a screen. We have smartphones, laptops, TV’s, even the self-checkout screens at the supermarket constantly surrounding us. We put one down to look at the next, and that cycle continues throughout the course of the day. It has become pretty clear that society is run by electronics and the screens they’re attached to. Now more than ever, it is important to discuss the negative effects these electronics have on the mind and body. It is possible that your electronics are actually aging you as you read this very blog post---Let’s discuss how, and what you can do about it.

    How much is too much screen time?

    Throughout the day, we bounce back and forth between various electronic devices. For those who work a job that requires a lot of time interacting with a screen, much of our screen time is unavoidable, however, there are many hours that are truly dedicated to leisure use. Our smartphones are usually the most inescapable devices that we own. They hold most of the content of our day-to-day lives: our emails, GPS, text messages, Google, social media, music, apps, and often our banking as well. They call for a lot of our attention, and therefore we spend hours looking at them. When we are not, of course, there is a laptop or TV for a good movie or video game to hold our attention for the remainder of the day.

    But how much of this back and forth from one device to the next is too much? When is it time to put down the screens and focus on something else? There is a consensus that reducing time spent in front of a screen can protect you from certain negative side effects.

    How much is too much screen time?

    What is Blue Light

    It is no secret that overexposure to UV rays from the sun is damaging, but there are other lights that we should be concerned about. Blue light also referred to as high-energy visible light (HEV), is a part of the visible light spectrum, which is a segment of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye can see. The human eye is able to detect wavelengths from 380-700 nanometers and blue light vibrates at 380-500. It is the shortest wavelength and has the highest energy. Blue light is all around us, however, sunlight is the most significant source. There are artificial sources of blue light, including LEDs, fluorescent light bulbs, and many of our electronic screens such as televisions, computer screens, phones, etc.

    It is important to note that blue light is not necessarily all bad, despite its negative reputation. Blue light boosts alertness, elevates mood, and helps with cognitive function as well as to regulate our circadian rhythms. However, too much exposure to blue light can be very unhealthy.  

    Negative effects of extended screen time

    Computer vision syndrome (CVS), refers to a group of eye and vision-related problems that come from prolonged use of electronics emitting blue light. Some symptoms of (CVS) are:

    • Eye Strain and blurred vision: Long-term exposure to screens can trigger a slow degeneration of the retina. The eyes are constantly readjusting focus between the resting point of accommodation, where they want to be focused, and the front of the screen, where they should be focused; leading to eye strain.
    • Headaches: The eye is constantly readjusting to screens, which can trigger headaches.
    • Dry eye: Caused by a decrease in the blinking rate while staring at screens.

    Neck and shoulder pain can be a result of poor posture when using an electronic device. This can be from sitting with the device in the lap, slouching on the couch, and/or not having proper back support. Flexing the neck forward for a prolonged period of time puts pressure on the spine, resulting in neck and shoulder pain.

    Insomniacan be a negative result of excessive screen time. The blue light emitted from screen devices can suppress melatonin, the body’s sleep-inducing hormone, interfering with the body’s internal clock when overused.

    Blue light

    Mental health (addiction, depression)can be directly affected by spending a prolonged time at a screen. This side effect is not necessarily due to the screens and blue light themselves, but the content and activities on the screen. It’s well known that many of us that spend too much time on social media can suffer from comparison hangovers gazing at the seemingly perfect lives of others online. Moreover, as we become more digitally connected we may also become more anti-social in real life, depriving ourselves of the interaction we all need as humans. Our self-esteem suffers and so does our energy to engage with others in person. Excessive email checking can cause stress and anxiety, especially when attached to our work or difficult relationships. Additionally, screen time itself can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol.

    Weight gaincan occur as a result of too much screen time. Sitting at a screen contributes to a sedentary lifestyle, which is linked to obesity. The average American teenager spends over 7 hours and 22 minutes on their smartphones a day. It is usually the case that when someone is engaged with an electronic device, they are inactive. Sitting dormant and using little to no energy for prolonged periods can disrupt normal appetite signaling and result in passive eating (also known as boredom snacking).

    How Does Screen Time Affect Your Skin?

    Blue light destroys collagen through oxidative stress. Flavin, a chemical found in the skin, absorbs blue light and produces free radicals that damage the skin. Those with more melanin have a more difficult time with blue light. Studies show that overexposure to blue light can cause hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones. Blue light has the potential to penetrate more deeply into the dermis of the skin in comparison to UVA and UVB, resulting in aging.

    Protecting skin from blue light

    Topical and dietary antioxidantsare an important defense against oxidative environmental damage.

    These dietary supplements can help arm and protect the skin:  

    • Collagen Peptides: As the skin gets exposed and damaged from oxidative stress, incorporating collagen peptides to help boost and repair the skin counteracts any damage caused.
    • Liposomal Glutathione works to neutralize and eliminate free radicals found in the environment that damage the skin. Incorporating glutathione into your routine can help protect the skin from harm, yielding a bright and youthful complexion
    • Liposomal Vitamin C works to decrease pigment synthesis by inhibiting tyrosinase, a chemical involved in creating melanin and skin pigment. Including vitamin C in your daily nutrition can help protect your skin from hyperpigmentation caused by blue light on electronic devices. It also pairs very well with collagen peptides in order to supercharge collagen production in your body!
    • Vegan Omega-3is rich in DHA, a structural component of your skin responsible for the health of cell membranes which support a soft, moist, supple & wrinkle-free complexion.

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    What can you do to reduce screen time

    • Take breaks and do something analogue
    • Stand and stretch every hour
    • Don’t eat in front of a screen
    • Don’t bring your phone to the bathroom
    • Avoid backlit screens for an hour before bed
    • Swap out leisure screen time for physical activity, social interaction, or reading
    • Bonus tip: Invest in a pair of Blue Light Glasses that help to protect your eyes from blue light glare while using your devices.

    Supplements to promote collagen production

    In many ways, electronics make our lives easier and more entertaining. They have completely taken over and have a long list of benefits. We do not suggest doing away with them completely. It is not even possible to avoid blue light completely, as it is everywhere. However, we encourage you to remain aware of and proactive about your screen use. It can be harmful to your overall well being and can cause damage to the skin. Giving your diet a boost with supplements that combat free radicals and aid in the process of producing collagen is important as we navigate this technologically forward society.

    Summary Points:

    We spend an average of 11 hours/day in front of a screen, which takes a toll on our health

    Blue light damage is one of the negative effects of extended screen time which includes computer vision syndrome (CVS) and headaches

    Spending too much time in front of a screen is also linked to sleep issues and mental health conditions, to name a few

    Blue light has also been found to deplete collagen in the skin through oxidative stress damage

    Non-GMO supplementation is an important factor in defense against this oxidative stress

    Article References:

    1. Is Blue Light From Your Cell Phone, TV bad for your Health. Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/is-blue-light-from-your-cell-phone-tv-bad-for-your-health/2019/05
    2. Blue Light Exposed. Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From http://www.bluelightexposed.com/#blue-light-and-macular-degeneration
    3. How Much Screen Time is Too Much? Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From https://www.scripps.org/news_items/6626-how-much-screen-time-is-too-much
    4. Computer Vision Syndrome. Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome
    5. What to much screen time does to your eyes. Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From https://www.cbsnews.com/news/screen-time-digital-eye-strain/
    6. How Your Computer Use Can Trigger Headaches. Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From https://www.verywellhealth.com/is-working-at-my-computer-causing-my-headaches-1719432
    7. What a pain: The iPad neck plagues women more. Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180620150058.htm
    8. Screen Time and Insomnia: What It Means for Teens. Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/screen-time-and-insomnia-what-it-means-teens
    9. Can too much screen time affect our weight? Retrieved on June 15, 2020. Fromhttps://www.wcrf.org/int/blog/articles/2018/11/can-too-much-screen-time-affect-our-weight
    10. Is Too Much Screen Time Impacting My Quality of Life?https://comprehensiveprimarycare.com/is-too-much-screen-time-impacting-my-quality-of-life/
    11. Impact of Long-Wavelength UVA and Visible Light on Melanocompetent Skin. Retrieved on June 15, 2020. From https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15349307
    12. How Much Sleep Do You Need? Retrieved on June 13, 2020. From https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-requirements
    13. Teens Spend more than 7 hours on screens for Entertainment a day: Report. Retrieved on July 8, 2020. From https://abcnews.go.com/US/teens-spend-hours-screens-entertainment-day-report/story?id=66607555

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