Scientists recently found that more people are sleeping less than 6 hours per night, and sleep problems visit 75% of us every week. A few nights of insomnia are generally nothing to worry about. The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss, which contributes to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power.
One major reason for the sleepless nights might be your smartphone or tablet. Actually, the problem is more likely about your obsession with them than the devices themselves.
Science shows that even a short exposure to any backlit device, eg. your smartphone, tablet, laptop or other electronic device suppresses your ability to secrete the night time hormone melatonin by about 22%. Lack of melatonin at night leads to sleeplessness, especially in teens and the elderly. When this happens, it also leaves you tired all day long.
The first question to ask yourself is what are you doing in the evening hours before you wanna sleep? Is setting down your iPad or iPhone the last thing you do before bedtime? If yes, you are not alone.
New research shows that all of those nighttime hours spent with your tablet or phone can wreak havoc on your sleep.
The bright light emitted from these devices will suppress melatonin inside your brain, and this is why you lose control over the natural sleep-wake cycles, called circadian rhythms.
The bigger and brighter the screen, the less melatonin you produce. If the device is held close to your face (ofcourse it is, right?), the screen’s glow has more potential to disrupt your melatonin as compared to for example the TV, which is usually farther away. Not only are we obsessive about iPads and iPhones before bedtime, we are in fact keeping them close by – even when they’re sleeping.
Before, we used to disconnect from the outside world when going to sleep. But nobody does that anymore. Everyone I know sleeps with their phone no more than a few feet away, and when emails, updates or text messages come in, the phone lights up. That means even during our sleep, we’re being bombarded with light.
What to do?
– If you have trouble sleeping and are not ready to give up your phone or tablet before bedtime, you can follow these three tips to avoid sleeplessness:
- Dim the Lights
Don’t use the device at full brightness, use the automatic dimmer function at night (and turn off the lights in your bedroom as well).
- Get a Filter
Inexpensive filters can turn down the glare and block out melatonin-zapping blue light, as it is mainly the blue wavelengths of light (those below 520 nm) that disrupt melatonin. With a filter that cuts off light below 520 nm, you can still see and use the screen normally, -although the color is a bit compromised.
- Keep a Distance
Proximity is an issue, and so, you shouldn’t use these devices up close to your face. Don’t keep it closer than you would a TV or a computer.
If everything goes wrong and you have already tried these tips without getting any sleep, – my best advice is to get a dog.
Having a puppy in the house will automatically make you forget all about those electronic devices and make you dead beat. Every single day, -and guess what happens when you lie down with your cuddly, fluffy friend at night.