Hands up if you are guilty of using your phone in bed! Yep, me too. Unfortunately, that sneaky social media check at bedtime might be doing more harm than you thought. You might have heard by now that technology can cause problems with sleep habits. Let me explain how it can actually affect your sleep!
It can affect our body clock
When watching TV or using devices at night, the screen light can begin to affect your body. The photoreceptors (cells) in your eyes sense light and dark, so the light from your screen signals to the brain that it is still day and not the time for bed. In time, this can affect your circadian rhythms (body clock) and cause your brain to misinterpret whether it should be awake or getting sleepy.
Using a device before bed (or worse, while in bed) can eventually lead to an adjustment of your body clock. That means you might not be getting sleepy until much later than normal. If you are still getting up early each day, the quality of sleep you get may begin to suffer.
It can keep your brain active
Have you ever had trouble falling asleep after playing games online, or after a group chats? There’s a reason! These activities can stimulate your brain, which may leave it feeling wide awake. When your brain is in an active state, it can take longer to shift back a gear and to recognise it’s time to sleep.
Technology can impact sleep-producing hormones
Another problem affecting sleep is caused by the type of light coming from screens. Tablets, TVs, computer screens and smartphones all emit blue light, which can reduce melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone your body makes to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. If your body doesn’t produce melatonin as normal, it may take longer to get to sleep. The amount of restorative sleep may also be affected.
Here’s something to think about. Blue light is so effective at keeping people awake, it has been used in factories and workplaces with regular night shifts. Studies have actually shown blue light can boost reaction times and our attention level. That’s why it really has no place in your bedroom when you’re trying to sleep!
Here’s how to sleep better without giving up all of your devices:
- Use night-time settings to reduce the blue light (this light has the biggest impact on receptors) on electronic devices.
- If you use an e-reader at night, change the settings so the page is black with white text (instead of the other way around).
- Try to have a regular bedtime and put your devices down before you start getting ready for bed.
- Set your phone to silent before you go to bed, or turn notifications off so your sleep isn’t disrupted during the night.
- Try to avoid using your phone or tablet in bed.
- Make sleep a priority in your day-to-day life. Sleep is important for your health, so try to make sure you’re getting enough.