How Your Digital Life Affects Your Sleep

The popularity of hand held digital devices has led to a huge increase in sleeping disorders. Candy Crush is not actually to blame – at least not completely. It all resides in the light being emitted from the screens which are disturbing the body clock, even if the screen is dimmed. There is growing evidence that using portable devices before sleep has the same effect as leaving the light on, it wakes the body up. The closer the screen is to the face, the more you will be disrupted. Of course, phones and tablets now make that common place and these devices are easily used in bed. Dimming the screen brightness may help reduce the effect on the body but it still not as effective as switching the devices off.

Laptops, tablets and smart phones emit approximately 30 to 50 lux, which is about half the illumination of an ordinary room light which then affects the body’s circadian clock and suppresses the hormone melatonin which gives you that ‘sleepy’ feeling. The light suppresses melatonin which makes it harder to fall asleep and delays the body’s sleep pattern. The more melatonin you have, the easier it is for you to fall asleep, those who do not have enough take longer to nod off.

The most disruptive light to the body clock is short wavelength blue light. The bad news for gadget lovers is that this is exactly what backlit portable screens shine directly into the eyes. The best advice to reduce these light waves into the eyes is to shut down the computer, tablets and phones at least one hour before bed to reduce the impact of the light sources on sleep. If not, your body learns that when it thinks of bedtime that it needs to start waking up due to the tablet use, than to start slowing down and switching off for the day.

The impact of poor sleep is unmistakable. People become agitated, lose concentration quickly, lose short term memory, become depressed, feel pain and generally are more susceptible to common colds and flu.

Screen related sleeping disorders are on the rise. In the past, computers sat on the desk and were switched off and on to work. Now, the computers have landed in our pockets on phones and become our books on tablets. They are more accessible than ever, with many looking at a screen for over 10 hours a day. Many now even use their phone as their alarm clock. They are embedded everywhere in our lives without us even realising it. To set the alarm, you still need to look at the screen.

So what can you do to get a better night’s sleep? Well, stick to these 5 rules and you’ll sleep soon be sleeping like a log:

  1. Only go to bed to sleep. Do not use any gadgets or devices.
  2. Go to bed and get up at regular times.
  3. Stop using any gadgets with screens or televisions at least one hour before bed.
  4. Don’t drink caffeine after 2pm.
  5. Don’t take naps during the day.

Unlike our gadgets, our bodies really do need some time off each day.

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