The psychological and physiological stimulation it causes is the main culprit of this electronics-related sleep disturbance. Here are some of the more specific ways using technological devices within the hour before bed is detrimental to your health.
Blue Light Harms Your Eyes
The screens of cell phones and other electronic devices emit a blue light that decreases the body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps control our sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. Blue light has a short wavelength, which makes it especially disruptive to our circadian rhythm.
This interruption not only makes it hard to fall asleep, but it also makes it harder to wake up in the morning. What’s more, studies have shown that exposing our eyes to blue light can lead to retinal eye damage.
The Use Of Electronics Before Bed Keeps The Mind Active When It Shouldn’t Be
Generally, humans spend their whole day feeding their brains information. This has become even more true with the invention of handheld electronics, where we are constantly being updated about news as well as what’s going on in the lives of friends and celebrities on social media. This makes it harder for your body and brain to shut down, relax, and fall asleep.
With your brain staying so active through the use of electronic devices right before bed, you remain engaged and alert. Information continues to be fed into your brain, keeping you thinking about that social media post or that email. It’s even worse if the content you’re consuming fires you up or upsets you in some way. Plus, if you stay up too late with an active mind, it can end up leading to chronic sleep deficiency and cause you to be less productive and awake the next day.
For these reasons, it is unhealthy for your brain and body to keep using electronics when you’re supposed to be winding down for bed.
Sleep Quality Is Compromised By Electronic Devices
Keeping your cell phone in or near your bed is bad news for the quality of sleep you’re getting. Even if you’re not using your phone within the hour before bed, the simple fact that it is there can cause a disturbance. Every time the light goes on or it buzzes with an alert, it can interrupt your sleep, particularly your REM sleep.
If you must keep your phone near you while you sleep, put it on “do not disturb” or silent mode. That way, even though it is there, it won’t turn on or make any noises to get in the way of quality rest.
Turn Off Your Electronics At Least One Hour Before You Go To Bed
For the sake of both your physical and mental health, stop using electronics at least an hour before bedtime. This includes your cell phone or tablet, laptop, television, or even an electronic backlit reading device.
You can substitute using these by reading a physical book or using an e-ink e-reader (without the blue light) instead. Or, with your phone on silent and its light shut off, listening to a podcast in the dark is another good suggestion.