Now think about the amount of time you spend with an electronic device within the last hour before you start trying to fall asleep at night. Do you fall asleep with the TV on in the background? Are you checking your favorite forms of social media on your computer? Are you video calling a loved one on a tablet? Or are you trying to pass that last level of Candy Crush on your cell phone? If you guiltily laughed to any of these, chances are you wake up in the morning still tired and no where near refreshed from a full night's rest.
The Science Behind Why Your Electronics Are Affecting Your Sleep
Studies show that the blue light emitted from our electronic devices can harm our sleep patterns. When we are ready for bed, we turn off all the lights, close our eyes and our bodies start the production of melatonin. Light has a serious effect on our body’s naturally produced sleeping aid. This is a reason we tend to want to stay in bed on dark and raining days, our body’s response to the amount of light and may alter the body’s normal pattern of melatonin secretion. While any form of light can harm our beauty sleep, blue light can especially have some dark side effects. Experiments from Harvard Medical School have quantified the difference between exposure to green light and the exposure to blue light. These studies have shown that in comparison “blue light suppresses melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours)”. Using our electronic devices before bed has become a part of many people’s nightly routine. You put on your pajamas, brush your teeth, set your alarm, and check your mobile device one last time, just in case you missed a text or notification. While it’s all fun and games to play on our phones before bed the only ones we are really harming is tomorrow’s you.
How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
It might seem obvious, but a solution to this sleeping issue is to stop using your electronic devices 2-3 hours before you plan to go to bed. Although the answer is simple, it might not be realistic to your lifestyle. There are not many people that are willing to sit in the dark hours before they are ready to go to bed Luckily, there are a few alternative actions you can take in order to get the most out of your sleep.
1) If you have an iPhone, go to settings->Display & Brightness-> and turn on Night Shift. This will allow you to set the hours in which your phone will automatically change the display of your phone. It will lower the brightness and adjust the colors to be less harmful late at night.
2) Blue-Blocking Glasses
3) Use Dim Red Lights in your bedroom (this type of light is the least harmful to your sleep)
4) Increase your exposure to light during the day
5) Stop using electronics for at least 30-60 minutes before bed
6) Try reading a physical book, rather than staring at an electronic device
7) Take a dose of Melatonin before bed
8) Avoid sleeping pills such as Tylenol PM and Advil PM. Although it will knock you out for the night, it is very common to form a sleep dependency on these over-the-counter drugs.
9) Create a bed time routine. Your body will get use to your repeated actions and will signal that it is time for bed.