You’ve had a long day and it is finally time for bed. You put on your pajamas, turn out the lights, crawl under the covers… and then reach for your cell phone.
Does this sound familiar? One of the best AND worst things about modern technology is the fact that it’s always available. It’s incredibly convenient to be able to pull out your cell phone and instantly check your email or look something up on Google, but many people just don’t know when to stop. This can have serious consequences, as spending too much time on cellphone and mobile devices before bed can disrupt your sleep schedule and leave you feeling drained in the morning.
But why is that? Read on and we’ll explain why using your phone before bed is harmful to your health and what you can do to break the habit!
Why Do Electronic Devices Disrupt Sleep?
The most obvious reason that cellphones and other electronic devices disrupt our sleep is that they’re keeping your mind engaged when you’re supposed to be winding down for the night. Even just quickly checking your phone stimulates your brain, making you more active and awake. This is the same reason that it’s recommended that you don’t watch television immediately before bed: too much stimulation makes it harder to relax, keeping your mind racing.
Mobile devices are worse in some ways, as social media often causes people to feel like they need to constantly be available, responding to messages immediately. Also, the constant scrolling of a Twitter or Facebook feed doesn’t really have an “end,” so it encourages you to keep going. All of this adds up to an experience that forces people to feel like they can never really log-off, even when they’re sleeping.
This is made worse due to the blue light that smartphones and most other electronic devices emit, as it’s been scientifically shown to suppress melatonin, the hormone responsible for controlling your sleep-wake cycle. The reason is that blue light mimics daylight, which can confuse your internal body clock and throw off your circadian rhythm. The result is that even if your body is exhausted, you can experience insomnia during the evening, which then leads to tiredness and irritability in the daytime. Plus, even if you do manage to get to sleep, the distracting thoughts caused by late-night cell phone usage makes it harder to go into REM sleep, which is the most restful type of sleep.
Tips For Night-Time Tech Usage
If you’re a nighttime tech user, you need to set some clear ground rules for their usage when approaching bedtime. First of all, you should ideally cut off screen time an hour before bed, though some argue that even 30 minutes can make a difference. This doesn’t just include cell phones either: computer screens, tablets, and TVs can all emit blue light, so avoid midnight TV bingeing or working at the computer late in the evening.
It’s also important to establish a relaxing bedtime routine if you want to get the best possible sleep. The last hour before bed should involve activities like simple relaxation exercises, reading, meditation, and prayer. Not only does this help to limit behaviors that can distract you or put you in an anxious mood, but it also helps to ease your body and mind so that when you finally lie down for the evening, you’re ready for bed.
Finally, if you really want to limit late-night screen time and improve your sleep schedule, consider leaving your cellphone in a different room. Some might struggle with this, as we tend to get used to having our mobile devices on hand, even using them as a replacement for an alarm clock. But the constant chimes of late-night texts, emails, calls, or calendar reminders can often be just as distracting to your sleep as actually using the phone itself. If you can’t afford to keep it out of arms’ reach, set it to nighttime mode and turn off any unnecessary notifications. As long as something isn’t on fire, it can wait until morning.
It can be tough to put away the screens when they’ve become such an integral part of our daily lives, but taking these helpful tips can make the process a little easier and ensure that you’re rested and ready for tomorrow!