How digital addiction could be affecting your sleep
Here, Phil Lawlor, Sleep Expert at memory foam mattress specialist Dormeo, tells us how being addicted to technology could be affecting our sleep.
In 2018, approximately 37% of adults in the UK admitted to checking their phone at least five minutes before going to sleep, according to a report published by Ofcom. For those under the age of 35, this number increases to 60%. But, if you’re guilty of being on your phone before bed, what exactly is this doing to your sleep?
Blue Light Disrupts Your Circadian Rhythm
The blue light that is emitted from your smartphone, tablet or laptop screen mimics the light we get from the sun, and scientists have recently discovered that there are cells in our eyes that process this light and reset our body clock (Science Daily). Essentially, the light from your phone tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, which delays the release of melatonin (the sleep hormone), meaning you’re going to find it harder to get to sleep as a result. This then disrupts your circadian rhythm, which is what you may commonly refer to as your sleep-wake cycle, which means you’ll find it more difficult to get up each morning, and you’re more likely to feel dips in your energy during the day.
You’ll be tuned in to the sound of your phone
In an age that relies so heavily on technology to carry out daily tasks, we’ve become addicted to the sound of a text or email coming through. Having your phone nearby while you’re sleeping means you’re always going to be subconsciously tuned into the sound of notifications and your sleep is going to suffer as a result.
What Changes Can You Make?
If you’re finding that it’s taking a long time to drift off, there are a few simple lifestyle changes you can make to get a better night’s sleep.
Minimise Screen Time
Try to stay away from electronic devices at least an hour before going to bed. Instead, come up with some other, more relaxing activities to include in your daily bedtime routine, like taking a bath, reading a book, or doing some light yoga stretches.
Move Your Phone to a Different Room
To prevent yourself from listening out for the sound of a text or call, keep your phone in another room where you’re not likely to hear it if anything does come through. This will allow your brain to fully relax and you could actually sleep better. Do a digital detox: Taking a break from technology can do wonders for your body. For a more holistic approach to a digital detox, there are many properties that offer retreats which allow you to take a step back from your smartphone and relax without any technological interferences. Doing this can help to reset your circadian rhythm, meaning you’re going to sleep a lot better when you get back.
Stick to a Schedule
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. You’ll be resetting your circadian rhythm and your body will get into the habit of your sleeping pattern. This means you’re more likely to be tired just before going to bed, rather than in the middle of the day.
Keep a Sleep Diary
If you’ve tried these four tips and you’re still struggling to sleep, try keeping a sleep diary. Make a note of the times you went to bed and woke up, what you did during the day and just before bed, and what you ate and drank during the day. It could be that there are other factors affecting your sleep, such as consuming too much caffeine or being stressed. If you’re worried about your sleep and you can’t identify a reason, it’s best to visit your GP to narrow down the cause.
In our digital age, an addiction to our screens can have serious negative effects on our sleep. But, by making these simple changes to your daily routine, you could start getting a better night’s sleep, which could, in turn, have some great benefits on your physical and mental health.
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