Are smartphones sabotaging your sleep?
You’ve had a long and exhausting day, and nothing seems more inviting than the comfort of your bed—thoughtfully outfitted in your favorite sheets and a pillow that is now perfectly formed to you. Teeth are brushed, lights are turned off and the fluffy Heirloom White Goose Down Comforter is pulled back. The setting couldn’t be more complimentary to optimal rest, and you are ready to embark on a restorative night’s sleep. Then you look at your smartphone.
We have become practically tethered to our mobile devices during the day, and it seems those miniature portals to the world are now impeding our break between days.
“Smartphone screens emit bright blue light so you can see them even at the sunniest times of day. But at night, your brain gets confused by that light, as it mimics the brightness of the sun. This causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that gives your body the ‘time to sleep’ cues,” according to Business Insider.
Since we’ve become so attached to our cellular sidekicks, they’re something we utilize right up until the time we are ending our day for sleep. Yet something as seemingly harmless as scrolling through news articles, or doing some online shopping before dozing off is actually disturbing needed sleep.
“The harm caused by blue light has been replicated over and over. In another study, a group of Harvard researchers compared the effect of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light, compared to similarly bright green light. The blue light suppressed melatonin for twice as long, and it shifted sleep schedules by three hours, compared to an hour and a half,” the Atlantic reported.
It may come as no surprise the group most affected by smartphone sleep impairment are those between the ages of 18 and 24—since they are the generation born into the digital age. They’re probably using their phones at a time they’d otherwise be sleeping, and of course letting the blue light deplete their melatonin right before bed in an inability to unplug.
“Beginning around 2009, smartphone use skyrocketed, which Twenge believes might be responsible for the 17% bump between 2009 and 2015 in the number of students sleeping 7 hours or less,” as uncovered by Sleep Review, with the help of a study done by Jean Twenge, PhD, a San Diego State University professor of psychology.
Regardless of age, there are ways to quell the negative impact smartphones can have on your sleeping hours. Like anything else, it depends on moderation and limiting usage to a certain amount of time per day—particularly not looking at your phone when those Z’s are calling.