With the ever growing popularity of electronic devices, Americans are facing more sleep disorder than ever. About 60 million Americans have problems sleeping, ranging from occasional sleep disruptions to full on diagnosed disorders. We are advised by experts to sleep 7 – 9 hours each night but with technology by our side, it is difficult. It is far too tempting to read just one more chapter of that captivating eBook, check one more email, post just one more social media status, or send one more text message. If all else fails to keep you awake, there’s always that television to beckon call; you’re just about to get up and go to bed, and that preview flashes across the screen, dragging you back to the light.
The problem with this vicious cycle is the research that shows that electronic devices too close to bedtime hinders your ability to get quality sleep. This can all be attributed to the science of chemical reactions and the human body. The artificial light emitted by electronic devices sends a signal to our brain to stay awake. Because our brains are already wired to connect wakefulness with daylight; The light works by forcing our body’s natural rhythms to veer off track, causing our brain to produce less melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone. This, in turn, results in a decrease of focus and alertness throughout the following day. Overtime, this builds up to a general issue of poor sleep patterns.
The debilitating effects of blue wave light reach to a greater concern than just poor sleep. Extended sleep deprivation not only makes you miserable the next day, but has also been linked to an increased risk of mental and physical health issues: such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, Alzheimer’s, dementia, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This is mainly because there are many crucial hormones that are released by the body during sleep cycles, and without these hormones, your body is susceptive to a multitude of illnesses. One significant hormone is the growth hormone, and it’s only secreted during the deepest stages of sleep. Melatonin is also released at night to aid in sleep, support metabolism, and protect the immune system. In short, if sleep is consistently deprived, the body cannot produce these natural hormones, and as a result the body faces significant health risks.
With such detrimental consequences, improving your sleep should be at the very top of your priority list. Incorporate some of the following tips to regulate your wake/sleep cycles, leading to an overall better quality of health and life.
- It is recommended that all electronic devices be shut down 2 hours before going to sleep. If you simply cannot shut down your electronic devices, at the very least, dim the device’s light. This alone can positively affect the secretion of melatonin.
- Use only gentle red tinted lighting during the night. Try shielding yourself from blue light by using a light filter or computer program that limits the effects of harmful light.
- Make sure to get plenty of bright natural light throughout the day. You can do this by taking a quick 15-minute walk, or eating lunch outside.
- If you’re an individual who enjoys reading before bed, opt for physical books instead of eBooks.
- If possible, use an actual alarm clock instead of your cellphone. This eliminates the requirement of having your phone by the bed, decreasing the temptation for use.
- The majority of people have countless electronic devices throughout their home, making it difficult to get away from the blue wave lights. Use Amber tint glasses to protect your eyes from the harmful rays of all these light sources.
Although the best defense against sleep harming light is the dismantling of all electronics at night; you can still improve your quality of sleep without completely disconnecting. Taking even small steps will add up, and lead you to a more restful night, and an overall healthier life.