Limiting evening exposure to light-emitting screens can help improve sleep problems in teenagers, a new study has suggested.

Research from the Netherlands indicated that reducing exposure to blue light-emitting devices in the evenings could reduce fatigue, improve concentration and help with mood swings after only a week.
It found that adolescents who had more than four hours per day of screen time suffered from longer sleep-onset and wake-up times as well as more sleep loss symptoms.

Meanwhile, the effect of blue light blocking glasses and evening screen time abstinence was tested on 25 frequent users. Both measures resulted in 20-minute earlier sleep-onset and wake-up times and a reduction in reported sleep loss symptoms after one week.

Dr Dirk Jan Stenvers, from the department of endocrinology and metabolism at the Amsterdam UMC, said: ‘Adolescents increasingly spend more time on devices with screens and sleep complaints are frequent in this age group.

‘Here we show very simply that these sleep complaints can be easily reversed by minimising evening screen use or exposure to blue light. Based on our data, it is likely that adolescent sleep complaints and delayed sleep onset are at least partly mediated by blue light from screens.’

However, others have cautioned putting too much weight behind the research given it had not yet been peer reviewed, as it was presented as merely an abstract at a conference and therefore has not been examined on the level needed for clinical endorsement.