It seems like everyone has a phone these days which shows how electronic devices are ruining sleep. A lot of people even have two phones. It is hard to believe that something so small could be affecting our sleep, but it is true. Studies found that the blue light from electronic devices causes melatonin suppression, reducing sleep quality and duration. The brain thinks it should be awake because it sees so much bright light in the evening hours when we are trying to go to bed.
What can you do? There are some great apps out there for limiting your exposure to blue light in the evenings by using filters on your screen or wearing orange goggles!
A 2011 poll by the National Sleep Foundation, asking about their use of electronics before bed, revealed that only 56% of those questioned said they used them less than 30 min. According to a recent survey, over 40% of Americans bring their cell phones into bed when trying to fall asleep. Adolescents and young adults between the ages of 13 and 29 were particularly likely to engage in this behavior. The study also revealed that 6 in 10 respondents used a desktop or laptop computer within one hour of bed.
Although tempting, using a computer or phone before bed is not recommended. Multiple studies have shown that using electronic devices before bed can interfere with sleep by suppressing melatonin production. A natural hormone that causes you to feel tired and ready for sleep. This contributes to physiological arousal, which will make you feel alert when your body should be winding down instead.
Why do electronics keep you up at night?
The biological clock in healthy adults has a cycle of 24 hours. When your body produces cortisol, a hormone that makes you feel awake and alert when the sun rises in the morning, you can avoid feeling groggy by turning off all of your electronics at night. As the sun sets, another hormone called melatonin is released that creates feelings of sleepiness.
Electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets, readers, and computers emit short-wavelength enriched blue light that can disrupt sleep. Shifting to fluorescent and LED lightbulbs also changes the quality of light by emitting blue light, which has been shown to affect the production of melatonin in the evening. Blue light exposure can also reduce the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, both of which are stages crucial for cognitive functioning.
Blue light, which emits from electronic devices such as tablets and cell phones, can be detrimental to children’s sleep. Many studies have found that using electronic devices before going to bed is linked to a decrease in the time it takes someone to fall asleep. Children who use electronic devices at night are likely to have less quality sleep, making them feel tired during the day.
Even household lighting can be a source of melatonin disruption at night. Researchers found that bright lights can decrease the nocturnal production of melatonin for as much as 90 minutes compared to dim lighting.
In addition to causing sleep problems, studies show that blue light can cause retina damage. Unlike blue light, red, yellow, and orange light do not affect the circadian rhythm. Dim lighting with one of these colors is considered optimal for nighttime reading. The intensity of light emitted by the Kindle and Nook is lower than that from other electronic devices. If you prefer to read a printed book, turn the brightness down as much as possible.
How to use technology well at night.
We recommend avoiding blue light-emitting devices, such as computers and smartphones, in the hours leading up to bedtime. For those who work or study at night, the use of electronics is more difficult to avoid. If you need to use an electronic device in the evening, these strategies can help you sleep longer and better.
- Decrease your daytime and nighttime electronic use. Electronic devices do not help you sleep well at night, and they can significantly impact teens’ quality of sleep. Electronic devices have been shown to often result in sleep deficiency, shorter sleep duration, and delayed onset. Implementing regular digital detoxes and restricting teenagers’ daily electronic usage can help improve sleep quality.
- To help promote healthy sleep, you should make sure your body has a chance to rest by ensuring that you have a regular bedtime. Before bed, avoid activities such as watching TV and using screens because they can interfere with your sleep.
- While some people like to keep a television in their bedroom, make your bedroom a screen-free zone. According to sleep experts, watching television before bed can have a negative impact on your ability to fall asleep. We recommend removing all electronic devices from your bedroom – and encourage your kids to do the same.
- It is best to keep bedroom lights dim to have an easier time falling asleep. Some studies have shown that you may not be able to get the best night of sleep if your bedroom’s light levels are above 100 lux. Dimmer indoor lighting doesn’t have a significant effect on your melatonin production.
- It has been shown that cell phones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices with a nighttime mode are better suited for bedtime reading. As one study noted, blue light emissions should be reduced and the display brightness reduced during nighttime hours. If your device doesn’t automatically adjust its brightness in nighttime mode, you should manually dim the display.
- Orange-tinted “Blue Blocker” glasses can shield your eyes from blue light emissions. One solution is to wear glasses that block blue light, which can be found at many local pharmacies or online. Blue light blocking glasses can be found for less than $100 and will likely change the quality of your sleep.