I-hate-it-when-I-drop-my-phone-on-my-face-when-texting-in-bed scenarios make for common themes in several rage comics. If you were to Google ‘drop phone on face’, it’d return over 16,20,00,000 results. More than how embarrassing or painful it might be, it’s nothing compared to the adversities that in-bed screen time can bring. Let us tell you why.
Light (particularly blue) boosts attention and promotes wakefulness. Sunlight is the greatest source of blue light that screened devices also emit. In fact, exposure to light keeps us awake while reduction in light induces sleep.
However, the significance of electronic devices in our lives has changed this quite a bit. We find ourselves staring into screens way past bedtime, making light linger when it should be out. Inevitably enough, this throws our circadian rhythms (biological clocks) off the table. Melatonin production too takes a hit. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating sleep, and any reduction in its secretion disrupts sleep.
A research from Harvard Medical School uncovered the effects of screens on sleep. They assessed two groups by comparing the influence of reading e-books vs printed books before bedtime for 5 consecutive nights. Eventually, e-book readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night and had shorter REM sleep durations compared to the printed book readers. The e-book readers also secreted less melatonin. Unsurprisingly, the e-book readers felt less tired in the evening and more in the morning, despite sleeping for a full 8 hours.
Another reason for device-induced sleep deprivation is our level of engagement with that device. If you’re playing your favourite video game or streaming your favourite show on Netflix in bed, you’re likely to be too engaged to fall asleep.
No matter what Harvard professors recommend, you won’t lay logged in a dark room now, would you? But if you really want to be on your phone or laptop before you hit the sack, you could wear blue-blocking glasses or use apps that filter out blue-green wavelengths. You can also purchase physical filters for your iOS device.
Don’t forget how important sleep is for your brain health. Devices around us impact sleep and consequently our overall health. While we’re on the topic of sleep check our India’s best mattress in a box. Prioritize, and sleep well!
Social media has an impact on our sleep routine too. To know more read our post How social media makes you lose sleep.