With 75% of Brits owning a smartphone, channels and apps where we can binge watch TV series and almost every job using some form of digital system, it can be hard to switch off at bedtime. Our lives are so entwined with technology now that it can seem alien having time away from anything electronic. But does this use of tech hinder our sleep quality? And what can we do to fix it?
The tech item we probably use most every day is our smartphone. It’s difficult not to reach for it when we get any quiet moment. Research by Deloitte has even shown that a third of UK adults and half of 18-24-year olds wake up to check their phone in the middle of the night. This sleep disruption has also cause a disturbance in relationships with participants saying this had caused arguments. Many also blamed their addiction on ‘FOMO’ – fear of missing out.
The trouble with this is that it tricks your brain into ‘waking up’ mode. Artificial blue light emitted from mobile phones stops your body from producing melatonin which is the chemical that makes us sleepy. The blue light gives the impression of daylight to your brain which hinders your ability to get to sleep and your sleep quality. Additionally, waking up from complete darkness and immediately looking at the bright screen on your phone can hurt your eyes if you hold it too close.
Many of us love curling up and watching our favourite TV shows in bed before we get our heads down. Whether you’re binging on Netflix or catching up on the soaps, watching telly in bed can have a bigger impact on your sleep than you might think.
One of the significant concerns with bedtime TV is the temptation to stay up late and carry on watching to the end of the series or film; we’ve all been there! The content of the programme can have an adverse effect on our slumber too. Sleep.org says, ‘violence, gore, or suspense may leave you feeling anxious and could contribute to tossing and turning.’
However, the biggest issue with watching TV in bed is the same as with smartphones – artificial blue light. Most electronic devices emit the same type of blue light, so anything with a screen like this will have a negative impact on sleep.
Working late into the night or online shopping will keep your brain active when it should be winding down. If you do need to work from home in the evening, set yourself a time limit to ensure that you have enough time to get your body into sleep mode before you get into bed.
And yes, the artificial light from your laptop screen will have all the same negative effects as with a TV or smartphone!
What can you do?
The best way to stop technology from ruining your sleep is the most obvious; avoid it! Instead of using your TV, tablet or phone to wind down and relax, consider reading a book instead. Stay away from electronics that will keep your brain ticking over and focus your attention on yourself.
Why not start a journal to write down your concerns from the day or to note things you’re thankful for? Breathing exercises will also help to relax your body into a sleepy state. Read more about sleep relaxation techniques in our helpful infographic.
Has your sleep suffered as a result of technology? Tell us your stories in the comments.