We’re all familiar with the idea that one way or another, technology interferes with our sleep. Even though a multitude of studies give evidence that light-emitting technology is disruptive to our sleep, the majority of us haven’t read the research behind it. We are guilty of using our phones or tablets in bed, not heeding the warning because we’re wedded to the benefits of technology.
Melatonin, the hormone that’s essential to our ability to sleep, can only be produced by our bodies during dark hours. When our eyes detect fading light we start producing melatonin, and one to one-and-a-half hours later we’re ready to go to sleep. Production immediately stops when we wake in the morning and our eyes detect light, thereby setting up our biological clock for the next 24 hours. This biological process allows us to sleep during the dark hours and be awake during the daylight hours.
In recent years, the rise in technology has severely impacted our biological reaction to this process, which has been evolving since the dawn of time. When we sit in front of bright light sources, such as a computer screen or smartphone, we trick our brains into thinking there’s no fading light. This stops our brains from producing melatonin, and our bodies from being ready for sleep. As many of us are using technology right up until the moment we’re going to sleep, we toss and turn for quite some time before actually falling asleep.
To get a good consolidated sleep, we need to start switching off one hour before we plan to sleep. Disconnecting from technology one hour before bedtime also has the advantage of allowing our mind to start relaxing. This prevents us from going to bed with an overactive brain, which can make getting to sleep very difficult.
It’s essential that we recognise how fundamental sleep is to our physical and mental well-being. Exercise and nutrition are considered the two main pillars of health, sleep needs to be understood as our third pillar.
Keep the use of gadgets to a minimum around an hour before your bedtime.
A few pieces of advice
- Set the alarm an hour before bedtime to stop unnecessary scrolling on your phone.
- Make sure that your bedroom is free of all devices that emit blue light.
Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below!