The vast majority of us are guilty of using our many smart devices – tablets, iPads, smartphones, etc – before going to bed. Research conducted to study the effects of the impact of using your smart devices before sleeping suggests strong negative relation. The more you set eyes on your smart screen, the more disrupted and less sleep you are likely to get. There is evidence based research conducted to support this argument.
What Does Research Suggest
A study backed by the National Institute of Health studied the sleeping pattern of two participants groups. One group was made to read eBooks on an iPad four hours before going to sleep while the other read printed books. Their sleeping pattern was monitored for five days and then the two groups were switched. It was found that the group of participants who read eBooks on an iPad fell asleep after a longer time than those who read books.
The reason is attributed to lesser production of the hormone, melatonin, which is responsible for causing sleepiness. When you stare at a bright screen before going to bed, your internal clock is shaken up and your body produces less melatonin. That is why, if you have been noticing delay in sleep before using your smartphone, this is one biological reason that explains what is happening. Electronic devices emit blue light, which disrupts the natural circadian rhythm of the body taking it longer for you to fall asleep.
So, if you were supposed to go to sleep at 12 but you actually fell into slumber at 1 waking up at 6 in the morning for work, that’s a mere 5 hours- not sufficient to function properly. The majority of adults require 7-9 hours of sleep to be active and alert during the day, according to a clinical professor of psychiatry, Dr. Dan Siegel at the UCLA School of Medicine who also talks about the adverse effects of smartphone use before going to bed in this video.
The Adverse Effects
In the simplest terms, by using smart phone devices before sleeping, you’re telling your brain that it’s not time to sleep yet. It’s a serious epidemic that’s plaguing societies. If you think you can function well after a mere 4-5 hours of sleep, in the long run, it has serious adverse affects.
For one, lack of sleep affects your attention to remain focused during the day and at work. Your ability to make challenging decisions is impaired because you are unable to think properly due to lack of focus and sleep. Furthermore, your memory is affected because you have not rested well. It takes more time for your brain to pull out information. The adverse effects are not limited till here but it also affects your insulin disrupting metabolism, so you end up eating more and gaining weight.
What Can You Do?
To avoid falling prey to these adverse effects of using a smartphone before going to bed, make a commitment to shut off all electronic devices at least an hour before going to bed. Make sleep a priority and try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each day to remain active and alert during the day.
Since David and I both tend to work at night after the girls go to bed I just recently purchased these orange safety eyeglasses and installed a free computer program called f.lux . Both of these are supposed to minimize blue light exposure and protect melatonin levels. I was sold on the glasses when I read the reviews about getting better sleep. Check out the reviews for yourself.