Technology has made amazing differences in our lives. Whether it is TV’s, mobile phones, tablet PC’s, laptops, games consoles and the like; we are surrounded by technology. In our homes; at work; in our cars, literally everywhere. As part of our “twenty-four hour always on” world, it often feels like we are the consumed rather than the consumer of the technology.
We even have things by us when we go to bed. Do you use your mobile phone before you go to sleep to check the latest e:mail? Do you use your tablet to watch films in bed? Perhaps you use you iPad as an alarm clock? Just think for a moment. Look around your bedroom.
Now, let me ask you a question: How did you sleep last night?
Honestly, when was the last time you woke up completely refreshed? Can you even remember when that was?
Perhaps you have been suffering from a lack of sleep? Or interrupted sleep where you wake up and can not go back to sleep?
Chances are it is because of the technology by your bedside and how you are using it. Now, before you start saying, “no it is not”, let me share some research and some real life examples.
The blue light emitted by the screens on mobile phones, iPads, and tablets suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep cycle. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. You can also experience shorter restorative REM cycles, delayed circadian rhythms, and feel sleepier the next morning. This “blue light” effect literally tells our body to stay awake and alert. It is like sleeping wit the bedroom light on.
It may seem harmless to check your e:mails before bed, play a simple game or unwind with a favourite movie, but by keeping your mind engaged, we are tricking our brains into thinking that it needs to stay awake. And if you’re surfing the web, seeing something exciting on Facebook, or reading a negative email, those experiences can make it hard to relax and settle into sleep. After spending an entire day surrounded by technology, your mind needs time to unwind, to relax.
It wakes you up:
Even if you are not using technology before bed, it doesn’t mean that it can’t harm your sleep. Keeping a mobile phone, iPad or tablet PC within reach can still disturb sleep, thanks to the chimes and dings of late night text messages, e:mails, and other reminders. A colleague at work has had a couple weeks where they kept waking up in the middle of the night. They couldn’t figure out what was causing the problem. Then it struck them. For the past two weeks, since their son has gone back to college, they have been receiving text messages on their iPad late at night from said son, who is obviously staying up late at night. Since it is by their bedside, the chime of the incoming text message has woken them up. And since they are such a light sleeper, it means it takes hours before they can go back to sleep.
Technology is great, but when it impacts your sleep, it can make a real difference in how you are during the day. So, if you have been having sleep problems, it might just be that tech by your bedside.
Tips to help:
- Why not give yourself at least 30 minutes of gadget-free transition time before going to bed.
- If you need to do something to relax before going to sleep, you could read a book, but not on a backlit device!
- Even better, make your bedroom a technology-free zone—keep your electronics outside the room. For me, I do not have my mobile phone by my bedside. Rather it is in the kitchen, downstairs. I have an old fashioned alarm clock by my bedside which I use.
It might not be the technology alone that affect your sleep, it could be something else. I came across the following website by the National Sleep Foundation who are dedicated to starting a movement about the positive benefits of sleep health It has a raft of tips and hints on how to help improve your sleep:
I leave you with the following quote.
“The night is the hardest time to be alive and 4am knows all my secrets.” ― Poppy Z. Brite
Research: Why your cell phone causes sleep problems