It has long been known how important it is to get enough sleep each night. Whereas the amount of sleep differs from person to person and during our lifetimes, it is still important that we go through the full sleep cycle in order to feel properly rested and ready for the new day’s challenges.
However, there is a relatively new threat which is making it nigh on impossible for a lot of us to get enough sleep – gadgets. Things like phones, computers, tablets, and even TVs can seriously affect our sleep habits. Even though buying a new mattress can do wonders for your sleep, you will still have to do something about the electronics in your life as well.
Their Light Affects Our Sleep Cycle
The screens of our gadgets give off blue tinged light because it is the most energy-effective. However, this choice has had an unexpected side effect on our sleeping habits. The blue light actually reduces the production if melatonin, which is a pineal gland hormone controlling our circadian rhythm, AKA sleep cycle. The way it normally works is that the levels of melatonin increase as night falls because there is no more light, and they drop down again in the morning when the light comes back.
If you use an electronic device such as a phone or a tablet an hour before you go to bed, you are reducing the levels of melatonin at night by mimicking the natural light. The solution is simple – don’t use electronics before you go to bed.
The Stress Wakes You Up Even Further
Playing video games at nights, doing some additional work, or studying for an important test the next day into the wee hours of the night may seem like a great idea – there’s nobody around to bother you and you can focus on the task at hand. However, all three of these activities have one thing in common – they are typically high stress situations.
Even if you cannot feel the stress at that point, your brain does and it is doing the best it can to combat that stress. Sadly, we are not equipped with a proper response to a very difficult level in your video game or a computer program that keeps freezing. Instead of a proper reaction, your body does the old natural thing – fight or flight.
Now, seeing how you cannot flee, your body prepares to fight by flooding your bloodstream with cortisol. Cortisol has another is very closely related to another stress hormone which you may be more familiar with – adrenaline. Even though they have a slightly different function they both serve to keep your body alert and awake, exactly the opposite of what you want.
Various Notifications Can Wake You Up
With the advent of push notifications, your phone or computer can become a beehive of notification activity. Seeing how most apps today have their own notifications, you may just be inundated by constant beeps and vibration coming from your device, not to mention the light again.
Some people are just compelled to look at each notification as it comes, especially young people. The fear of missing out and the need to be connected with friends at all times can result in less sleep, and the sleep they do get in the end is not as invigorating as it could be if it weren’t interrupted.
However, people in the workforce aren’t much better and being at the disposal of the superiors at all times seems to have become a norm. While it may score you some points with your boss, your sleep patterns may become all bent out of shape and as a result, you may not be able to perform at work effectively.
Using Technology Keeps the Brain Awake
When you go to bed, your brain needs to shut off the centers which you use during the day and activates whole new areas to do something we have not figured out yet. However, what we do know is that without the deep sleep associated with the later stages of the sleep cycle, people wake up tired and not refreshed at all.
No matter how fascinating it is, technology is not helping us achieve that deep sleep that we need. If you play a video game until the late hours or decide to watch a film while you fall asleep, you are keeping your brain active with all the diurnal activities that it needs to shut off and recover.
This doesn’t naturally happen at a snap, it takes time for your body and your brain to actually wind down and to exchange the necessary chemicals to prepare your body for sleep. If you interrupt that process, you will confuse your body’s inner clock and you may find yourself with a disrupted sleep pattern.
So, in short, while technology is hugely important and awe inspiring at times, there are times and places to use the technology, and right before bed isn’t ideal. Rather than getting lost in the blue screen of your preferred device, get yourself a good mattress, turn off the lights and get some proper rest.