Technology and Sleep Health

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There are many factors that contribute to the quality of sleep we get, and the use of electronics at bedtime has been on the rise. Let’s face it, technology is a part of our everyday life. It can be difficult to disengage with our smartphones, but it may be causing some significant impacts to sleep quality. It is important to have proper “sleep hygiene” or practices and environmental factors that promote high-quality sleep.

How Electronics Interfere with Sleep

The blue light emitted by cell phones, TVs, laptops and other electronics impedes on the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Using electronics at bedtime causes the brain to remain stimulated and tricks the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake. Our bodies are programmed to operate with the natural light. The constant light from technology confuses our bodies about when to shut down, often making falling asleep a struggle. If you need to use your device at night consider turning on the “night shift” mode if your device has this capability. This feature switches from using blue to yellow light. This lessens the impact the blue light has on your sleep cycles, and allows your body to produce melatonin.

Sleep Hygiene Tips

If the use of technology before bed is causing you to lose quality sleep, ditch the smartphone and try incorporating the following steps for proper sleep hygiene.

  • Never use your devices while lying in your bed
    It is important that your body associates your bed with only sleep.
  • Read
    Make sure the book isn’t so exciting that you become mentally stimulated. On the other hand, if it is too boring, your mind may wander. Finding the right balance is key.
  • Listen to a progressive muscle relaxation for sleep
    Progressive muscle relaxation can help you focus on letting go of stress and falling asleep. YouTube has tons of progressive relaxation exercises.
  • Take a warm bath
    The drop in temperature experienced after a warm bath signals your body that it’s time to rest by slowing down body functions such as heart rate, breathing, and digestion.
  • Try a sound machine or fan
    Our brains crave sensory input, which is why we may wake to outside sounds even if they seem minor. Having a constant hum gives the brain something consistent to latch on to throughout the night.
  • Reduce caffeine intake
    It has been found that consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed can disturb sleep.
  • Try to refrain from naps or reduce nap time to no more than 30 minutes
    Our bodies only need a certain amount of sleep; don’t cap out during the day.
  • Never lay in bed for more than 10-20 minutes trying to fall asleep
    Get out of bed and engage in a light activity, such as reading, but keep the room dim. Climb into bed again once until you feel sleepy.
  • Establish a bedtime routine
    If your body recognizes that you’re doing the same functions every night before bed, it will begin to pick up on them.

 

If you feel technology use is seriously disrupting your sleep or other aspects of your life, such as mood and well-being, consider talking to a therapist about ways to manage this. The Light Program has trained counselors ready to help you today!