Is Technology Interfering With Your Sleep?

From smartphones to laptops and tablets, we are immersed in screens throughout the day. The National Sleep Foundation’s recent study on screen time and sleep revealed that a staggering 39% of Americans use their smartphones every night to watch TV, make calls, catch up on work, and scroll through social media.  As enticing and harmless as these activities may sound, screen time before bed may come with its share of drawbacks. Let’s explore the science behind screen time and sleep and identify potential consequences of using electronics before bed.

How do phones affect sleep?

Before we uncover the potential consequences of screen time before bed, let’s first delve into the science behind how our smart devices can impact our sleep health. The relationship between technology and sleep comes down to the artificial blue light emitted from the screen.  Blue is a wavelength of the visible light spectrum that the brain interprets as being daylight.

Blue light fools the brain into thinking it should stay awake, which in turn disrupts the body's production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for inducing sleep. Without this crucial hormone, the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is thrown off balance. To mitigate the effects of blue light, experts recommend dimming the screen's brightness in the evening hours. This small adjustment can significantly contribute to a more restful night.

What are some potential side effects of using your phone at night?

Difficulty falling asleep:  By tricking your body into thinking it's daytime, exposure to blue light close to bedtime can extend the time it takes to wind down and fall asleep.

Sleeping less: Engaging with your phone before bedtime, especially in activities that stimulate the mind, may lead to a shortened overall sleep duration.

Increased Risk of Insomnia: Regular screen time before bed has been associated with an increased risk of insomnia. Persistent difficulties falling asleep and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can contribute to the development of chronic sleep disturbances.

Negative Impact on Mental Health: Poor sleep can take a toll on mental health. Sleep is vital for emotional well-being, and disruptions in sleep patterns may contribute to heightened stress, anxiety, and difficulties in maintaining a positive mood.

Physical Discomfort: Use at night can contribute to physical discomfort, including eye strain and headaches. The proximity of the screen and the strain on the eyes may lead to discomfort that lingers into the night.

Risk of Technology Addiction: Constant connectivity through smartphones may contribute to a psychological dependency on technology.

How long before bed should you turn off electronics? 

The ideal timeframe to turn off electronics before bed varies among experts, but a general recommendation is to reduce your screen time in the hour leading up to bedtime. Ideally, you should allocate a minimum of 30 minutes of device-free transition time to allow your mind to settle and shift into a more tranquil state.

To help you resist the urge to use electronics in bed, use the first 30 minutes to check messages, stream your favorite TV show, or scroll through social media. Make the last 30 minutes “devices off” time. Use this time for activities that help your brain wind down before bed, such as reading or listening to calming music. Ultimately, the key is to establish a consistent pre-sleep routine that works for you. Experiment with different activities during the recommended timeframe and observe what helps you relax and prepare for a good night's sleep.

Make Technology Your Sleep Ally

While their convenience is undeniable, using electronics before bed can do more harm than good. Understanding the potential side effects can help individuals make informed choices about their phone usage, especially during the evening hours.

Here's an area where technology can be a sleep ally – sleep systems and mattresses. Advancements in mattress technology, like adjustable bases and smart mattresses have revolutionized sleep quality. If you’re looking for an affordable smart mattress, try SmartLife. Its patented body-sensing technology continuously adjusts to your unique profile, providing optimal comfort and support for a better night's sleep. With eight independent zones, a smart alarm, relaxation mode, a control unit built into the mattress, and a 25-year limited warranty, SmartLife ensures a tailored sleeping environment for years to come. Stop by Sit 'n Sleep for latest mattresses, bedding, and accessories to create your perfect sleep sanctuary.