Winter also means when we spend more hours under artificial light rather than daylight due to shorter days. The short days and long nights inevitably affect our sleep/wake rhythm (Circadian rhythm). This causes many changes in our body. One of these changes occurs in our eyes. Acıbadem Ankara Hospital Eye Health and Diseases Specialist Professor Doctor Emrah Altıparmak pointed out that, in addition to this winter-specific change, we have to spend longer hours under artificial light, which can lead to an increase in sleep disorders and the formation of myopia in the eyes, as a result of this increase:
“Whether sleep disorders, or more accurately, disruption of ‘sleep hygiene’, cause an increase in myopia in children has been a matter of debate for a long time in the scientific world. This is because, in some studies, children who sleep less are more often nearsighted or their myopia progresses more quickly. In a study of 15,316 Chinese children, it was shown that sleeping less than 7 hours a day increases the risk of myopia. A similar study was conducted on 3,625 Korean children and it was found that sleeping less than 5 hours triggered myopia. On the other hand, other studies have revealed results that do not match these results. Thereupon, the relationship between not only sleep duration but also sleep quality and myopia was investigated and interesting results were encountered. For example, it has been observed that myopia is more common with sleeping late, and myopia progresses faster in children who go to bed late. It has been reported that children who sleep less or have irregular sleep hours are more often myopic and/or their myopia progresses more rapidly. These results are more dramatic in people who are called “night owls”, that is, people who sleep during the day and stay awake at night” .
Sleep balance affects the eyes
In fact, all of these studies show that a special group of retinas, located in the retina of the eye and responsible for maintaining the night/day balance of the body Altiparmak emphasizes that this cell points to the role of the cell, “These cells, called ipRGC, regulate the sleep/wake rhythm of the brain rather than the vision task of the eye. These cells are sensitive to light (especially to the blue wavelength) and are directly connected to a region of the brain located in the hypothalamus, which is our body’s internal clock. When these cells sense the light, they stop the release of the hormone melatonin, which is released during sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that is normally released during sleep at night and directly or indirectly affects the functioning of many systems in the body. It can also be called the “happiness hormone” .
At least 2 hours should be spent in the light
Emrah Altıparmak listed the other things to consider as follows;
– Going to bed late, exposure to bright light reflected from the screen, such as a mobile phone or computer before going to bed, can negatively affect the release of melatonin hormone. As a result, we may face sleep problems.
-Sleep problems that we will encounter in children can cause many other problems in them, as well as cause myopia or myopia to increase more frequently in their eyes.
– In order to protect eye health in children and young people, maintaining sleep hygiene is also of great importance. Especially in winter days when the daylight is short and we are more exposed to artificial light, we should pay attention to the sleep times of our children and ensure that they end their communication with digital devices at least 2 hours before sleep.
-If there is a situation that they should definitely use, we can protect their sleep hygiene by reducing blue light, and indirectly protect their eye health.
– Even if the days are short, we should keep in mind that spending 2 hours a day outdoors in the light is one of the most protective methods to stay away from myopia.