Many of us use our smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices all day long. Technology can help us get our homework done, connect with friends, or entertain ourselves. This can result in spending a great deal of time using screens all the way up until bedtime. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll that showed that 95% of American’s use a device within an hour of going to sleep.
Most of us have heard that screen time, or anything you do on your phone, computer, eReader, or other electronic device, may impact our sleep. Recent research has confirmed that screen time before bed does impact your sleep quality and ability to fall asleep in two ways:
- Screens emit blue light, which is in the same frequency band that is present during the day-time hours. This means your body may perceive the blue light from your screen as daylight, which suppresses the production of certain hormones, like melatonin, that help you feel sleepy.
- The light from your screen may also impact your circadian rhythm. Looking at your screen before bed can have an activating effect, making your body feel tense, increase your body’s production of cortisol (a stress hormone), and make you feel alert and awake. This is the exact opposite of what you want your body to do before bedtime because it can make it difficult for your body to relax in order to fall asleep.
Luckily, the simplest way that we can counteract the effect of screens before bed is to stop using screens and other technology 15-30 minutes before bedtime. This will give you a chance to unwind and relax, and will help your body transition to sleep mode. You may even consider establishing a bedtime routine, which can include things like reading a book, taking a bath, or practicing relaxation, like meditation or mindfulness.