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More Than 2 Hours of Screen Time May Affect Kids’ Brains

Researchers have been urging parents to limit their kids’ TV time for decades, but a new study doubles-down on those warnings, saying that children perform better on mental and academic tests when they watch less than two hours of screen time a day, Healthline reports. Not only that, less screen time — especially devices that emit blue light — helps children achieve more uninterrupted sleep per night.

This is a message that everyone could take to heart, adults included, as two of the largest contributors to poor sleeping habits are the use of artificial lighting and electronics at night, and insufficient light exposure during the day. Light intensity is measured in lux units, and on any given day, the outdoor lux units will be around 100,000 at noon. Indoors, the typical average is somewhere between 100 to 2,000 lux units — some two orders of magnitude less.

So, when you spend all or a majority of your day indoors, you essentially enter a state of "light deficiency." If you want to get good sleep, then, you have to have properly aligned circadian rhythms, and step No. 1 is to make sure you get a sufficient dose of bright sunlight exposure during the daytime.

Next, no matter what your age — but for children, especially — make up your mind to give up your cellphone, computer and other electronic devices a minimum of one hour before bedtime, but preferably longer. Normally, an adult brain starts progressively increasing the hormone melatonin around 9 or 10 pm, which makes you sleepy. Melatonin acts as a marker of your circadian phase or biological timing, but the blue light from these devices upsets melatonin production.

There are numerous ways to reduce your blue light exposure at night, but one of the easiest solutions I’ve found is to simply use amber colored glasses that block blue light. Blocking blue light helps regulate your internal clock to control sleep patterns and reduces the negative effect the high-energy wavelengths have on your macula. One of the least expensive and simplest ways to achieve this is to wear blue light-blocking glasses after 7 p.m. If you consistently use a digital device during the day, consider using the glasses each day after noon.

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