Teenagers should wear special sunglasses to bed to block out sleep-disturbing blue light from phones, computers and tablets, a study suggests.
Blue light from screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin which interferes with the natural body clock. Previous research has shown that adolescents who use a computer in the hour before bedtime are three times more likely to get less than five hours sleep, which can be hugely disruptive to mood and schoolwork.
As well as symptoms of tiredness and poor concentration, lack of sleep can also increase the risk of more serious long-term health issues.
A study by researchers in the Netherlands found that wearing glasses that filter out the blue light has virtually the same impact on sleep as turning off devices entirely.
Researchers tested the effects of blocking blue light on 25 frequent users. Both blocking blue light with glasses and screen abstinence resulted in the onset of sleep and wake-up times that were 20 minutes earlier, and a reduction in reported symptoms of sleep loss in participants, after just one week.
Similarly, the study also showed that filtering out the blue light reduced symptoms of fatigue, lack of concentration and bad mood, after just one week.
Glasses and screens that filter blue light are readily available online and at some opticians, but this is the first scientific trial showing they can actually benefit sleep patterns for teenagers. The research was presented to the European Society on Endocrinology in Lyon.