How Technology Use Decreases Sleep Quality
The average American spends more than 10 hours a day using technology. That includes computers, smartphones, tablets and TV. More specifically, 90% use electronics before bed on a regular basis. Unfortunately, sleep quality is impacted by the use of technology by disrupting circadian rhythms, decrease the amount of REM sleep, keeping the brain active into the night and interrupting sleep patterns.
It has become normal for most people to watch TV in bed and sleep with their cell phone on the nightstand. But this trend of going to bed with our technology has a negative impact on the amount and quality of sleep that we get. In fact, sleep deprivation has risen as smartphone use has increased in this country. Now, the experts are recommending that we keep technology out of the bedroom and take a break from screens in the evening.
Blue Light Can Mean a Sleepless Night
Recent research has shown that using smartphones and other devices before going to bed has a direct correlation with sleep loss. You may have heard that this is because of the blue light produced by screens.
Computers, tablets, television screens and smartphones emit short-wave, blue light. By delaying the release of the hormone melatonin, scientists say that it interferes with our circadian clock is set. The circadian rhythm is important because it controls our biological, light/dark sleep cycle and it is regulated by melatonin.
Using Electronics Decreases REM Sleep
Another physiological factor that is affected by the use of electronics is REM sleep. Surfing the web, engaging on social media or playing a video game before bed seems to postpone the onset of REM and decrease the total amount of REM in sleep cycles during the night. The long-term effects of this include daytime grogginess, inability to focus, mood swings and chronic sleep deprivation.
Gadgets Keep the Brain Awake
These days, many people use the time before falling asleep to take care of email, send messages to friends or catch up on news that they did not have time to read during the day. This may not seem like such a bad habit. Unfortunately, these activities on electronic devices work to keep your body and mind awake. Muscles throughout the body remain tense and these interactions tend to create stress. Even a low level of stress causes the brain to release cortisol, which will make it more difficult to relax and fall asleep.
Smartphones Interrupt Sleep Patterns
We should not overlook the obvious problem with keeping cellphones nearby. They tend to disturb sleep patterns with notifications popping up throughout the night. Incoming text messages, app notifications, emails and reminders with sounds and lights can keep you awake longer and wake you up continually. Any interruption to your natural sleep cycles can cause the following side effects:
- Difficulty remembering things,
- Reduced ability to learn,
- Decreased attention span during the day,
- Delayed reaction time,
- Increased risk of depression and other psychological issues.
Tips for Getting Better Sleep Tonight
It does not take an expert to understand that sleep is important to how we feel and function. Ensure that you are giving your body and mind the best rest possible during the night. You can increase the quality of sleep by following these recommendations.
Go Screen-Free for 30 to 60 Minutes
To keep technology from interrupting your ability to sleep well, make sure the last 30 minutes to an hour before bed are screen free. Reading a book or an ink-reader, which does not emit harmful blue light, is a great example of a bedtime activity that can actually help you fall asleep faster.
Make Your Bedroom a Sleep Sanctuary
Good sleep hygiene includes reserving the bedroom for sleep. Remove the television and any other gadgets you may have in the room.
Create a Designated Charging Station
Make a place in a common area of the house reserved for charging electronic devices and phones at night. This will help ensure that they do not disrupt sleep for your family. Putting smartphones on sleep mode can also keep notifications from waking you up, even from the other room.
Set an Alarm Clock
It is better to use traditional alarm clocks rather than relying on your cell phone alarm. Some studies have shown an increased risk of cancer related to the habit of keeping phones on a nightstand or under your pillow as you sleep. More technological alarm clocks which wake you up gradually with soft music or light are also available. These help relieve the anxiety that some people experience about waking up on time and can make the morning more pleasant.
Related article: How Remote Work and Virtual Learning Can Lead to Sleep Deprivation.
Contact Sleep Health Solutions
Talk to your doctor if you are having problems getting enough rest or think you may have a sleep disorder. Getting a referral for sleep testing is the first step to understanding the problem and finding the solution for good quality rest. Sleep Health Solutions can help get you on the way to sleeping better. Contact Sleep Health Solutions to schedule a consultation.