Sleep with your phone?
It’s estimated that up to ninety percent of people use a device during the hour before turning in. A pew research poll found that 90% of 18 – 29 year olds admit to taking their phones to bed with them. And many younger people confess to waking up in the middle of the night to check their phone. These behaviors could have disastrous effects on one's health.
Electronic screens cause a host of health related problems
Using electronic devices before bedtime is not only physiologically but psychologically stimulating in ways that can adversely affect your sleep. Electronic screens delay your body’s internal clock (the circadian rhythm) and suppress the release of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone.
Not only do devices make it harder to fall asleep but they can contribute to shorter periods of sleep, delays in the onset of REM sleep, and total time spent in REM sleep. Lack of regular sleep won’t just mean you’re a little tired. Lack of regular sleep has been linked to obesity, heart attack, stroke and diabetes and it can shorten your life span.
Why are devices bad for your sleep?
Light, and it’s sources, play an important role in regulating our sleep. Researchers have found that light in the blue spectrum, the kind put out by most electronic screens, acts on our bodies by suppressing natural melatonin. Melatonin is the key hormone that induces drowsiness and delaying its release means more time spent awake and increased difficulty in falling asleep.
Here are some tips for handling devices and improving sleep:
- Set a digital curfew. 30 minutes is the minimum but if you want better quality and longer sleep turning off all devices (including TVs) at least 2 hours before bedtime is optimal.
- If you only read on a device consider using e-ink readers like the Kindle Paperwhite. They don’t produce the same type of blue light that smartphones and tablets due.
- Wear blue glasses that block out blue light. (Just don’t try to do photo editing while wearing them.)
Night time modes may not be the answer.
Although Apple and other companies are coming out with nighttime modes. The science as to whether these truly help is not out yet. In the meantime, if you want a better night’s sleep not using devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime, more if possible, is your best option.