Going to bed no longer means going to sleep – and that’s a problem!
Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, email or a video games – electronic devices – are keeping millions of Americans from doing what they went to bed to do – get a good night’s sleep. According to a 2017 Restonic consumer Sleep Survey of more than 1,000 consumers, our fully wired, 24/7 connected world is keeping us from both falling asleep and sleeping well.
The Restonic Sleep Survey polled more than 1,000 people on their sleep habits. The ages of the respondents were spread across Millennials, Gen Xr’s and Boomers, 80% were women and 62% married (72% had children). To help us better understand how lack of sleep affects people, we focused on understanding how individuals regard the importance of sleep and ways in which they’ll protect (or disregard) their need for it.
Not surprisingly, only 14% of respondents reported getting enough sleep on a regular basis and cite the use of electronics as the biggest sleep thief in their life. Less than 10% of respondents who use electronics in bed stated that they regularly get adequate sleep. Those who limit the use of their electronics in bed described their sleep as adequate at more than double the rate of those who don’t.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that more than 85% of adults have at least one screen in front of them before bedtime, which can stimulate the brain instead of preparing it for sleep. Disrupted sleep patterns can also have negative implications for overall performance in everyday life and cause health related issues.
Why are electronics so dangerous in bed?
The simple truth is that our brains, bodies and sleep cycles are all affected when we bring our electronic devices to bed.
The glow from electronics works against sleep because of small amounts of light emitted from these devices pass through the retina into the hypothalamus (the part of our brain that orchestrates sleep) and delays the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Before we even shut our eyes, our quality of sleep is compromised because our brain thinks we should be awake. Talk about a conflict of interest.
Not only does your brain react to electronic devices, but your body does as well. Writing a work email, playing a video game or watching an intense scene in a movie, can create stress, which sends your body into “flight or fight” mode. Goodnight sleep and hello stress. No surprise that this physical response is not conducive to promote the calmness your body needs to feel before bed and adds to the amount of time it will take for you to finally fall asleep.
So how do you fall asleep faster and sleep better?
Consistently falling asleep later can cause what is referred to as “delayed sleep syndrome,” where your body physically can’t fall asleep naturally until a late or delayed bedtime. Don’t worry though – your sleeper’s not broken. It just needs to be re-calibrated. To readjust your natural sleep time, plug into these helpful tips:
- Charging station – Set up a family charging station in a common room to power devices overnight. If you need your phone in your bedroom, place it face down on your nightstand and set it to sleep mode.
- Alarm clock – Go old school and buy a real alarm clock instead of using your phone.
- Power off screens – Turn off all your screens (televisions, phones, computers) at least an hour before bed. If you normally work late into the night, try powering down 15-30 minutes before you go to bed.
- Bring paper back – Instead of flipping through Facebook read from a printed book instead. If you prefer to read from an electronic reader, try an app that flips your screen’s background to black instead of white. This will significantly cut down your brain’s exposure to blue light.