Limiting your screen time is a good way to ensure better mental and physical well-being. Most importantly your sleep can be disrupted. Blue light from electrical devices like your phone, TV, computers and tablets can confuse your circadian rhythm by disrupting the production of melatonin which is used to regulate sleep. Your circadian rhythm is an internal 24 hour clock that serves in the background to optimise your body’s natural processes throughout that 24 hour period. When your circadian rhythm is out of whack it has a significant impact on the quality of sleep, which in turn impacts your health as a whole.
Another aspect of so much screen usage includes the growing research suggesting increased eye deterioration, eye strain, dry eyes, cataracts and blurred vision.
It is vital that children experience parent controlled, short spans of time using a screen. Studies have suggested that the suppression of melatonin is even more significant in children that haven’t gone through puberty. Further to increased eye risks (due to more sensitivity to light), attention and mood problems arise from poor sleeping making learning and behaviour more difficult.
So what can be done? In our modern world it is almost impossible to lead a life without a screen. Therefore setting ourselves clear boundaries and ‘time off’ from our devices is the most sensible option. In practice this could be not using a screen at least an hour if not two or more before bedtime, not having your phone/tablet/television in the bedroom, dimming lights or having lamps on instead of overhead lights, using blue light blocking glasses and utilising most devices blue light blocking ‘night shift’ modes which automatically switches your screens to have a soft orange filter. Finding new activities or hobbies can be a good way to use the time instead of the endless scrolling we trap ourselves in with social media. Reading a book or non-lit e-reader, doing some drawing or colouring, going for an evening walk if your location permits this, trying out some evening/bedtime yoga stretches and breathing practices or simply sitting and listening to music, the radio or audio book. Many of these activities do use a screen but training yourself to pick and put down your device is a good idea.
Getting out in the daylight, at the earliest time in the day is vastly beneficial to our overall health, aiding our internal body clock and helping us sleep.
Some find a ‘digital detox’ very helpful. This can be anything from absolutely no screen time to logging out of social media for an extended amount of time. The latter is a fantastic way to reset some distance between you and your device and train yourself to find another way to spend your time.