It isn’t uncommon for individuals to scroll through the content on their smartphone, watch a little TV, or even play a game on a mobile device before they close their eyes each night. In fact, according to The National Sleep Foundation, 90% of individuals in the United States admit to using technology during the hour before they go to bed. Unfortunately, what these individuals may not realize is how these simple acts are hurting their quality of sleep each night.
How Do Screens Affect Sleep?
Tech devices, such as smartphones and tablets, emit blue light. This type of light has a much shorter wavelength than other types of visible light and it releases more energy. It has been shown to improve your attention and reaction times, as well as increase your mood. While these benefits are ideal during daylight hours, being exposed to blue light in the evening can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Blue light also affects the production of melatonin, the hormone that affects your circadian rhythm and helps you fall (and stay) asleep each night. When you use a mobile device or sit and watch TV, the blue light tells your body it is time to wake up, rather than prepare for a night of sleep.
Spending time on electronic devices, particularly before bed can also increase your anxiety and stress levels. For example, you may scroll through your social media newsfeed, only to find articles, images, and posts that excite you, make you sad, create anger, or increase any negative emotions.
What to Do Instead
Rather than spend your evenings on your smartphone or watching your favorite TV show, there are several things that will help you better prepare for a night of sleep. They include:
Set an electronics curfew: Determine a set time each night when family members must turn off all electronic devices. Establish your curfew at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Read a book: Reading a book is an excellent way to relax your body and calm your mind. However, you must make sure the book you are reading will not stimulate your mind too much. Stay away from reading material like a suspenseful mystery novel.
Enjoy lots of light during the day: Bright light during the day will not only improve your mood and give you more energy, but it will improve your circadian rhythm, helping your body better recognize when it is time to go to sleep.
Practice bedtime yoga: There are many relaxation exercises you can participate in shortly before you fall asleep. Bedtime yoga, for example, helps to clear your mind, focus on your breathing, and stretch out your muscles before you crawl into bed.
Create the optimal sleeping environment: Spend a few minutes preparing your bedroom to receive a good night’s sleep. Make sure your bed has cool bedding such as sheets and pillows that are soft and clean. You should also put on the right pair of pajamas, like Cool-Jams moisture-wicking scoop neck pajamas — they’re comfortable, cool, and trendy. And don’t forget to set the thermostat in your bedroom to a cool 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for the perfect sleep temperature.
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