Your devices are ruining your sleep quality

by George Lovell | | 0 comments

Feeling tired or groggy this morning? Your phone may be partly to blame. As always, we are here to provide you with the information and tools that you need to manage your technology.

We are designed, or have evolved, to get a lot of ultraviolet light during the day, and very little at night. The more that we can sync with our body's natural biorhythms, the more healthy and energetic we will be. Unfortunately, modern life and technology has made this difficult, especially when it comes to sleep.

The best thing you can do is eliminate screens an hour - or preferably two - before bedtime. This has been shown to improve sleep quality - allowing people to get into the deepest stages of restorative sleep. Studies show that participants who viewed screens before sleep took longer to nod off, and experienced more sleep disruptions than those who didn't view screen.

Screens emit high levels of blue light, which stimulates brain activity and decreases melatonin secretion - the hormone which triggers sleep. By activating "Night Light", "Night Mode" or any other blue light filter on your phone, tablet, laptop and other screens, your device will shift to a warmer display, with less blue light waves, and more red light waves. You can schedule your light filter to activate in the evening, a couple of hours before bedtime. Alternatively, you can wear blue light blocking glasses. 

At the very least, be sure to turn your screen brightness on your phone, computer and TV way down in the evening.

Our visual system is very sensitive at night. Viewing bright light between 1AM & 4AM has been shown to significantly affect sleep quality for days after exposure, as well as supressing dopamine production - the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and motivation. If you wake up in the middle of the night, a quick scroll through Facebook could have a similar effect to jet lag.

We can set our internal body clock in the morning simply by viewing daylight. This will trigger cortisol release, and set melatonin to release in 16-hours time. Failure to do this can mean we secrete more stress hormones and less sleepy hormones in the evening. Unfortunately, screens do not properly initiate this process. We need natural daylight ASAP. This means that cruising Instagram for an hour upon waking, could affect your energy levels and subsequent sleep cycles.

Then there's the type of content that we are viewing on our feed. Stimulating content signals to our brain and body that we must remain active and engaged. If your Aunties political memes get you riled up, probably best to avoid her timeline before bed. We want to wind down, not up.  

We know that using an alarm to wake up isn't ideal. But we all have things to do and places to be. One thing we can do though, is stop hitting the snooze button. Being repeatedly woken by an alarm can disrupt important biological processes, leaving you more fatigued than if you'd just gotten up the first time. It's so tempting, and the bed is so warm, but you've gotta get up and go.

Thanks for reading!

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