Most of us are rarely without our smartphones, even when we start to relax after a busy day. Whether you’re spending time on social media, playing a game or checking the score, your phone is never far from reach. But did you know the artificial light given off by our smartphones can interfere with a good night’s sleep? You may think you’re winding down before bed by checking tomorrow’s appointments or reading an article, but you’re actually making it more difficult to fall asleep.
According to sleep.org, which is affiliated with the National Sleep Foundation, the blue light emitted by electronic devices “restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle.” The lack of melatonin makes it more difficult to fall into an uninterrupted sleep. Sleep.org suggests putting your phone away at least 30 minutes before going to sleep so that your body has enough time to unwind naturally.
When night falls, it signals our brains that it’s nearing bed time. But if we’re glued to our electronics, the light interferes with the body’s natural instinct to go to sleep. According to a 2014 article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists determined that using electronic devices before bed increases alertness and delays the ability to fall asleep. In addition to artificial light, smartphones keep our brains active when we should be relaxing before bed. The adrenaline rush you get when playing a game, or the laughing fit set off from a friend’s text message disrupts your relaxation, delaying dream time even more.
Even if your phone is out of sight on your nightstand, it can still interrupt your sleep through unexpected texts and email alerts. Your best bet is turn the ringer off before you settle in so you’re not disturbed in the middle of the night. It might be difficult to unplug at first, but chances are you’ll be asleep before you even miss your phone.