A large number of people use their devices all day long, and then electronic media to help relax at night. If you’re a nighttime technology-user, this article is here to help you realize the extent to which electrical devices can make it harder to settle down for sleep. Using your phone or laptop, for example, before bedtime can be stimulating, both physiologically and psychologically, in ways that can negatively affect your sleep.
Practice ignoring notifications for 15 minutes. Then 30 minutes, and so on. Don’t check your phone every time it goes off. You should tell your family, friends, and colleagues that you might not respond straight away, but you will within a specified amount of time, like 30 minutes.
Try to keep your bedroom free from distractions. Your room should be somewhere that you connect with sleep. If you want to relax in the room you sleep in and have no distractions, it is a good idea to watch TV, check social media and eat in a different room. If you do keep a phone nearby in case of emergency, make sure it only rings when certain people are calling, and still place it across the room, away from your bedside.
We’ve all heard of ‘blue light’ by now. This short-wavelength, artificial light suppresses the production of melatonin – the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. This, then, can disrupt your sleep. Have a go at putting your devices aside about an hour before you go to sleep – this should reduce their impact on your sleep. Devices include computers, phones, laptops, tablets, etc. The earlier you stop looking at your device in the evening, the better, but do what feels realistic for you.
Using your electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock and makes it harder to fall asleep. The more electronic devices you use in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep. They increase your alertness at a time when you should be getting sleepy, which in turn delays your bedtime, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, sustained deficiency in sleep.
It’s not just blue light that can affect your sleep. Receiving a message that you’re going to be thinking about all night right before bed is clearly distracting, and getting notifications throughout the night could disturb your sleep. It’s so important that you switch off to these kinds of alerts before bed. Not much can be done to resolve any conflict when you’re tired, and worrying about them is only going to make sleep harder. However, if you do happen to receive a text that could be disruptive, just try and write down your thoughts and feelings, and you can return to it in the morning with a fresh mind.
A good alternative to scrolling through your phone is reading. Read a printed book, magazine or whatever takes your fancy under lamplight (instead of bright overhead lighting). If you would rather use an e-ink e-reader (like the Kindle Paperwhite, NOT the Kindle Fire), that’s fine because it doesn’t produce the same blue light as a smartphone or tablet.
Try colouring in or do some brain-training games like Suduko (on paper) to tire your brain before sleep. These activities will also help your general well-being and focus. Why not do some exercise or simply go for a walk before bed – get some fresh air, do some physical activity to wear your body out a bit so that you appreciate your rest more.
The Mayo Clinic says that if you do choose to use technology during the hour before bedtime, keep it 14 inches from your face and dim the brightness, in order to reduce the blue light and increase the natural melatonin release. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that people who read from an e-book as opposed to a paper book needed an extra 10 minutes to fall asleep. Melatonin delivery was delayed by 90 minutes, and only half the amount of melatonin was released.
If you wake up in the middle of the night, try singing a single song lyric in your mind over and over. This will help block the anxiety and allow you to fall back to sleep.
Today’s devices are amazing. They connect us to people and endless information. However, we need to learn to control them, instead of letting them control us, raise our anxiety and harm our all-important sleep.