Loneliness, Sleep, And That Weird LCD Light:
So when a simple, understandable problem happens, Science is pretty quick to step-in and fix it.
But when people start experiencing stranger things, the process gets more complex.
And something along those lines is happening with an epidemic of psychological symptoms centered around Loneliness.
But a few studies by Universities at Berkeley, Toledo, and San Diego State might just put the steps of that puzzle together…
Bruce Banner Had Gamma-Rays, The Sad & Lonely Have Blue Rays:
In a strange twist of technology, Millennials and Gen-Z are some of the first generations to grow up with computers just about everywhere,
Because of that, they’re more connected than all of us and have been-so for longer.
And because those different sizes of computers all come with a screen,
They are also more-exposed than any of us to a newer, more sciency version of Blue Light,
And their results may turn out to be an indicator for everyone else…
But First, Social-Contagion From Mirror-Neurons:
So in a recent study at UC Berkeley, researchers found that repeated sleep-loss makes a person socially-repulsive.
Over a sample of about 20 subjects, they found that people who were sleep-deprived behaved in socially-anxious ways.
And more-worryingly, the 1,000 observers were seriously put-off by them instead of thinking they needed help.
A given observer will not only feel uncomfortable around a person in that state about 20% to 60% more frequently,
But they will also feel bad for awhile after interacting with them, too.
The Double-Whammy Of Social-Anxiety:
This just ends-up feeding off itself.
As the more negative experiences we have, the more we avoid people as part of a habit;
-Both as the sleep-deprived person and also as the one who had the instinctively-bad experience with them.
With almost 50% of Americans report feeling left-out, this gets even more serious.
Because social-isolation is linked to increasingly-bad health outcomes, including increases in mortality, too.
If A Smartphone or TV Is For Sale, It’s Tested As Safe, Right?:
And normally, you would think that if it’s available for sale, say in a device,
Then it’s safe, right?
Well, science has recently been drawing connections between the blue-light that comes from TV & Computer screens to its counterpart in the sky.
And that bit strangely-enough, is intimately-related to our sleep-patterns.
It’s not just our body-clock that changes sleep, but the signals we get from sunlight help regulate it, too.
Loneliness And Isolation From Poor Sleep, Canaries In A Coal-Mine:
But then the other shoe drops.
Not only are Millennials, and Gen-Z more connected to weirdly-unsatisfying social networks,
Those two groups report higher loneliness and disrupted sleep-patterns than the rest of us, too.
The stats might not be lying on this one.
Because strangely-enough, the first year when smartphone-sales really took off was 2012.
And that’s the exact same year the loneliness-stats started increasing.
-Specifically in the 2 generations earliest and most-frequently-exposed to those bluish LCD screens.
But There Is Hope. -Sorta:
One of the most common-sense ways to avoid this weird leper-like syndrome from disrupted-sleep,
Is to reduce blue-light as much as possible,
At least after a certain hour, hopefully around sunset.
For some people, turning off devices with LCD screens and reading Proust by candlelight is not an option,
So there are some screen-tint-utilities like F.Lux out there,
And very reasonably-priced blue-blocking eyewear on Amazon by brands like Gamma-Ray.
This may all seem weird to someone, until they start noticing problems.
And perhaps a little self-awareness and being informed ahead of time are all good ways to arm yourself to fight these things before they happen.
However! -U. Toledo Gives Us One Final Word Of Caution…:
It’s still early days, but U. Toledo has come out with a study that would recommend much more strongly for those computer-glasses.
They allege that the light from electronic-devices doesn’t just disrupt your sleep on the day.
It may damage your eyes, causing eventual macular-degeneration that is irreversible.
Now even before LCD-Everywhere, Science knew about blue-light and how it ruined your night-vision.
The jury’s still out, and several professionals disagree with the UT study construction.
Thankfully, The Jury’s Still Out:
But, compromised-vision may be one of the problems linked to poor sleep-patterns in older people.
Perhaps, this is a reduced-ability to see natural blue-light from the sun after the years of damage?
So is it then possible because of early, long-term exposure to blue-light,
Millennials and Gen-Z will be underslept, depressed, and lonely for the rest of their lives,
-With the rest of us not far behind?
Let’s hope that the dissenting voices out there are right,
But just-in-case, to prevent loneliness, depression and unfair social-isolation from that off-rhythm sleep, those computer-glasses are looking better and better every minute!
Photo Credits: “picture on the wall”, by Harry Fodor
• Sources: UC Berkeley | U. Toledo
• More Coverage: Look After Your Eyes
• Source Studies:
• Nature – Sleep loss causes social withdrawal and loneliness
• Nature – Blue light excited retinal intercepts cellular signaling