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how screen time

How Screen Time Interferes with Sleep (and What to Do About It)

Technology and screen time have become an integral part of life for both adults and children. It allows for better communication and an incredible ability to exchange information. However, it can also lead to the sleep deprivation that affects anywhere from 28 to 44 percent of the population. A few simple habit changes can turn things around so you still get the full seven to nine hours of sleep you need.

Screen Time and the Sleep Cycle

Your brain largely relies on natural light to correctly time the start of the sleep cycle. The sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface lies on the blue spectrum. Special photo receptors in the eyes absorb blue spectrum light and send signals directly to the part of the brain that controls the sleep cycle. During the day when light levels are high, sleep hormones are suppressed. As light fades in the evening, the brain releases sleep hormones to begin the sleep cycle.

The light emitted from the screens of your favorite electronic devices like the televisions, laptops, or smartphones can also emit a blue spectrum light. While it may not be as powerful as light from the sun, it’s still absorbed by the same photoreceptors and travels to the brain to suppress sleep hormones. Consequently, screen time can throw off the timing of the sleep cycle, leading to sleep deprivation.

How to Manage Screen Time for Better Sleep

The responsible use of technology and electronics can certainly help you get better sleep. However, you also need to have the right conditions in your bedroom. A comfortable mattress, cool temperatures, and complete darkness are also essential. If you start with a room set up for success, you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Set a Curfew

A curfew on the use of electronics can help your whole family get better sleep. In general, your brain needs two to three hours to adjust to changing light levels so the curfew should start two to three hours before bedtime.

Calm Down the Evening Atmosphere

If you’ve already got an electronic curfew in place, your next step is to bring the evening energy levels down in your home. Try dimming the lights, turning off the television, listening to quiet music, or reading a book. If you have young children, it’s a good time to work on puzzles, color, or engage in other quiet activities.

Remove Electronic Devices from the Bedroom

For many people, the use of electronic devices at bedtime is a habit that’s hard to break. Help yourself by completely removing them from the bedroom. The light from the television won’t keep you awake and notifications from your smartphone can wait until morning.

Use a Bedtime Routine to Your Advantage

Help yourself fall asleep by using your bedtime routine to your advantage. Perform activities in the routine in the same order and start at the same time each night. Over time, the brain recognizes your routine and releases sleep hormones when it senses the start of your bedtime routine.

Conclusion

Adequate sleep is a full partner in your overall health and well-being. It may take time and a concentrated effort to develop habits that manage screen time better, but it’s well worth it. Better sleep acts as the foundation on which to build your personal and professional goals. So turn off the phone and shut the laptop to give your body a chance to get the rest it needs.






how sleep

How Sleep Can Be a Priority

If you hear yourself often saying any of the following things about sleep, please read on:

“I am not a good sleeper.”

“I wake up at 3 am and stay awake.”

“I am always tired.”

My husband, my mother, my father, and I have said all of these things numerous times in our lives. My husband and father both have Sleep Apnea. When treated with a CPAP machine, they have the quality and quantity of rest they need. My mother is a worrier. She can’t sleep because she’s thinking too much. That’s a bit of my problem as well, but I am like most mothers with small children…I am a light sleeper. I hear every sound. I use a fan, but I still hear every little noise.

According to “Causes of Sleep Problems” on WebMD:

Other factors that can interfere with sleep include:

  • Genetics: Researchers have found a genetic basis for narcolepsy, a neurological disorder of sleep regulation that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness.
  • Night shift work: People who work at night often experience sleep disorders, because they cannot sleep when they start to feel drowsy. Their activities run contrary to their biological clocks.
  • Medications: Many drugs can interfere with sleep, such as certain anti-depressants, blood pressure medication, and over-the-counter cold medicine.
  • Aging: About half of all adults over the age of 65 have some sort of sleep disorder. It is not clear if it is a normal part of aging or a result of medications that older people commonly use.

My doctor recently told me that everyone should be able to sleep through the night, for at least eight hours, without getting up to go to the bathroom. And if you can’t, you should see a urologist. While I don’t really believe that because every BODY is different, I do believe that we can achieve quality rest with easy and safe habits.

We’ve heard all the advice that makes complete sense, yet we don’t always follow it:

  • only use your bedroom for sleep and sex…no TV, no electronics
  • go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • finish eating and drinking at least three hours before bedtime
  • keep your bedroom cool and comfortable

These are all great. Here are some more you can add to the list.

  • diffuse and apply essential oils, such as Lavender, Copaiba, Vetiver, and Cedarwood
  • avoid stress in your life, especially before bedtime
  • use meditation, prayer, or any calming ritual before bedtime and if you wake up and can’t get back to sleep
  • invest in a quality comfortable mattress, like the GhostBed memory foam mattress
  • consider sleeping with a fan or sound machine
  • make sleep a priority in your life

These are all manageable habits. And the last one is simply a mindset. We think we can survive a day after a bad night sleep with caffeine, power drinks, and just pushing through, but we don’t have to and we shouldn’t. Sleep is a huge part of your lives. We are meant to spend about one third of our lives asleep. That’s a lot! Make it a priority. Find the ways that work for you. And get a good night’s sleep.

That’s an order.