11 Jul Why using screens before bed is ruining your sleep
Researchers have proven that we now sleep for nearly an hour and a half less every night than we did 50 years ago. While the average adult used to enjoy eight and a half blissful hours of sleep a night, they now barely reach seven. And even then, that’s the average. Nearly a third of us don’t even get six hours of sleep a night.
But what’s the cause of this worrying trend? Although we can’t blame just one factor, the increasing use of digital screens seems to be a key culprit. Screen-time before bed is now standard, but we think it’s time to reverse this trend to improve our health.
- It has been proven that teenagers who use a computer in the hour before going to bed are nearly three times more likely to get less than five hours sleep than their gadget-avoiding peers.
- Using a mobile phone before bed nearly doubles the risk of having a bad night’s sleep.
- A study has proven that the signal emitted from phones disrupts our alpha brainwaves, and as we’ve seen, those fantastic brainwaves are crucial for properly relaxing and switching off.
- Research has shown that adults who read an on-screen book before bed are less sleepy, less alert the following morning, and it takes them longer to fall asleep than those who read a traditional book instead.
But why? Our gadgets emit blue light that mimics daylight and thus makes our brains think it’s daytime, time to be up, awake, doing things, not sleeping.
Being exposed to this blue light suppresses the production of melatonin in the brain, and melatonin is the chemical that triggers sleep. The brains of those previously mentioned screen-reading adults release melatonin an hour and a half later than those who read regular books.
Most people constantly have their phones with them nowadays – in the gym, at dinner, even on the toilet! – and sleep is practically the only time spent NOT attached to a gadget.
However, more and more people are noticing improvements to their sleep after banishing their gadgets in the evening.
So what’s the answer? We say it’s time to ban your phone from the bedroom! By doing so, you won’t fiddle with it before bed, you won’t check it in the middle of the night, and it won’t be the first thing you reach for when you wake up in the morning.
And what can you do with your evenings instead of scrolling through your social media, reading online listicles and watching endless Youtube videos? Read a book, join the adult colouring craze, knit a hat… You may be surprised at just how much there is to do that doesn’t involve a screen, and your future self will almost definitely thank you for it.