In a world where technology is constantly evolving and changing the way we live, learn and work, connectivity continues to play a key role in our daily lives. The power and influence technology has, in both our professional and personal lives is significant and our reliance on it has become ever more prominent over recent years. Technology, however, is known to cause some negative effects, especially when it comes to talking about one of the most important subjects, your health!
Today, our laptops, smartphones, IPADs and tablets have all become a big part of our daily lives. On average, we spend 6 hours on a typical week day looking at screens, be it a phone, tablet, work computer or a television. In fact, most people will admit, it is often hard to put them down, even at bedtime. What’s even more concerning, a recent study has revealed as many as 71% of people fall asleep holding their smartphone!
This article will hopefully give you a short guide on how technology may be harming your sleep and what steps you can take to ensure you have an undisturbed, night-long slumber. Zzzzz…..
Smartphones – they wake you up!
Smartphones now more than ever, make it easier to be connected to the internet at every waking moment. Yet, they do have their disadvantages.
More than likely if you are reading this, you have been woken up by the sound, or vibration of your phone, a phone call or a flash of light appearing on your screen. Yes, it has happened to almost all of us. So, what is the consequence of this? These wake your body up from the deep REM slumber that you need to have proper ‘restful’ sleep. So what is REM?
REM is a stage of sleep that is necessary for the restoration of your body and mind. It also solidifies memories and is tied to your creative and problem-solving skills. If you don’t get enough of it, it can leave you feeling exhausted and you can have trouble focusing the next day.
So what are the consequences of sleep deprivation?
Tech can keep your brain alert
Watching a movie, checking that last email or scrolling through your social media feed before bed might seem innocuous, but by keeping your mind engaged, technology can ploy your body into thinking that it needs to stay awake. You know that delightful feeling you get when you’re in bed reading a book, and your eyes start to sink, and then you roll over and turn off the light to go to sleep? Well, staring at a screen at night will cause the reverse.
So, how can you prevent your night-time phone use from destroying your sleep?
They suppress melatonin
Blue light emitted by screens on smartphones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) and protects the health of your brain as you age. Low levels of light such as a night light can reduce the production of melatonin, even something as minuscule as street lights could do damage so it’s a good idea to invest in some blackout curtains.
What can you do to combat technology affecting the quality of sleep?
When your smartphone is in your room, any ringing or beeping or even vibrations from texts or calls can jolt you as you’re attempting to fall asleep and/or wake you up in the middle of the night. Overcome these issues by giving yourself a technology curfew (such as no screen time within an hour before bed), keeping your phone in another room overnight (or as previously stated, at least out of arm’s reach) and switching to an old-fashioned alarm clock.