Many people are surprised to learn that sleep has a very strong effect on many aspects of our overall health. The quality of our sleep can affect our energy levels, mood, focus, coordination, and more. Since athletes need to ensure that their bodies will work at their peak performance level all the time, it is essential to develop a regular sleep routine. It is also important for athletes to get quality sleep instead of just trying to sleep as much as possible. For example, you could opt to sleep for ten hours each night, but if you consistently wake up or toss and turn throughout your sleep cycles, you’ll still wake up feeling groggy in the morning.
Our sleep is controlled by our body’s internal circadian rhythms. We pass through several sleep cycles each night, and each sleep cycle contains several stages. During these sleep cycles, your body repairs muscle damage and produces essential hormones that regulate things like your hunger cycle, as well as preventing harmful disease. If you continuously deprive yourself of sleep, your body won’t be able to take care of itself, and you are more likely to experience injury as an athlete.
Blue light has many negative effects on our sleep cycle and can cause serious health problems over time that can limit an athlete’s ability to perform well. For example, blue light can make you feel tired, but it also makes it much more difficult to fall asleep each night. This is because blue light naturally suppressed the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythms. This problem places athletes in a catch-22; they are too tired to be productive, but not tired enough to get the sleep they need each night. Additionally, low levels of melatonin can even be linked to certain types of cancer and heart disease over a long period of time.
Blue light also has other negative side effects that may not seem particularly severe, but can be problematic over time. For example, blue light exposure can lower a person’s mood and put them at risk for depression - something that is particularly dangerous for athletes, as mental focus is just as important as physical talent in many sports. Prolonged exposure to blue light from screens for two or more hours can lead to unwanted eye strain and headaches.
Since athletes need to stay in their best possible shape for good performance, many coaches now suggest that their team members avoid blue light as much as possible by minimizing their use of electronics. However, this can be very difficult in our digital age, where so many of our daily responsibilities are managed online. Luckily, there are solutions that allow athletes to use the devices they love without compromising on their sleep quality.
For many people, it helps to set time limits for their electronic use. The closer to bedtime, the more detrimental it is to be focusing on a screen that is emitting blue light. Many people try to limit their phone and computer usage to the afternoons and early evenings and give themselves a few hours to wind down before bed so their sleep schedule goes uninterrupted. If this isn’t an option for you, you can also consider using a blue light shield or blue light blocking glasses. These products cast a yellow tint over the screen that blocks out the blue light rays, so you can use your electronic devices without being exposed to harmful blue light. Athletes particularly love these tools because they can get the sleep they need without having to compromise on their favourite forms of entertainment and communication.
One of the best solutions is Ocushield’s blue light screen protector which is used by the Wales International Rugby Team and West Ham UTD Football club. Here is what Tom Taylor the Sports Scientist from the Wales team had to say:
What was the problem?
“With large amount of travel and alone time, particularly throughout pre-season, we found that players were using their smartphones throughout the day and late into the night. The current research which suggests that the blue light emitted from smartphones will negatively affect our players' sleeping patterns, and therefore general recovery, meant that I was interested in finding a solution to this issue.”
How did Ocushield help?
“Introducing the Ocushield not only increased the awareness of 'blue light', as many of our players were unfamiliar with the negative effects it can have, but also offered a simple and effective method of helping with this issue.”
“Subjectively, our players using the Ocushield have felt an improvement in sleep latency and also feel less 'eye-strain' when going to bed in the evenings. Overall we have had positive results with the Ocushield throughout our use of the product.”
How we reviewed this article:
Ocushield has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations.
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.