Why unplugging at the end of the day is best
In this day and age, it can be hard to unplug at the end of the day. Between smartphones and tablets, email, Facebook and texting, our digital chores never seem to end. We’re constantly in contact with others and there’s always one more thing to attend to before shutting down. While all this communication has improved our lives in a multitude of ways, connectivity has its time and place – outside of the bedroom.
The science of light & sleep
There is strong scientific data documenting the role of light to promote wakefulness. Photoreceptors in the retina sense light and dark, signaling our brain about the status of the outside world and aligning our circadian rhythms to the external day-night cycle. Studies have shown that even our smallest electronic devices emit sufficient light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness. What does this mean? Before we even shut our eyes, our quality of sleep is compromised because our brain thinks maybe we should be awake. Talk about a conflict of interest. Read more at SleepFoundation.org
The glow of blue light
Blue wavelengths, which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the rise of electronic screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.
While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours). This means that your last minute tweets and Facebook status updates right before bed are making it harder for you to fall asleep. Read more at Harvard.edu
Make your bedroom an electronic-free space
With all this research proving that light, especially that of your smartphone and tablet, disrupts sleep – it just makes sense to unplug and tune out before bed.
In order to help prepare your body for bed, we suggest putting your electronics to bed an hour before you plan to sleep. As well, use warm, dim lighting in your bedroom at night to help your body adjust and prepare for sleep. Finally, if you must use your smartphone or tablet, look into downloading an app that allows you to change the glow of your screen from blue hues to warmer, red hues. This will help the light generated by your phone or tablet be less stimulating.
Need some help with your sleep patterns? We’ve found some apps to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better. Read more: best sleep apps for iPhone & Android. Hopefully by following these few tips, you’ll be able to catch better quality ZZZs and wake up feeling well-rested and ready for your day.