How Digital Devices Can Impact Your Sleep Patterns

Is your cell phone in your hand more often than not? These days, most people don’t leave the house without their cell phone in hand.  While our devices often make our lives easier as a source of information and communication, they also have the potential to cause harm to our physical and mental well-being. Digital devices like cell phones, tablets and computers can not only steal time away from you, but without self-control, they can also do long-term damage to your health.

Here are some ways using a digital device close to your bed time can worsen your quality of sleep:

Blue light is detrimental to your sleep patterns. Your cell phone emits blue light, which is the wavelength from digital devices. This tricks your brain into thinking you are in the sunlight, which can be a major problem when you are about to head to bed. When it thinks it is daytime, your brain delays the production of the hormone melatonin that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When the production of melatonin is delayed, it becomes harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Phone notifications will wake you up. The sound of a text message, ring tone or notification can disturb you if you’re trying to fall asleep or can wake you up. If you don’t want to turn your phone on silent in case of an emergency call, change your phone settings, as many cell phones allow certain individuals’ calls to come through, even if your phone is on silent mode. Most smartphones also have a sleep schedule feature where you can adjust and schedule the times your cell phone will go on and off of silent mode.

Your stress levels will escalate. Even thinking about checking your emails and text messages or apps will add increased stress and make you feel like you need to respond immediately. Stressing over what is happening on your cell phone before you go to sleep can increase your cortisol levels and also push off the production of melatonin.

When you are getting ready to go to sleep, it is important to limit your usage of digital devices. If you must have your cell phone in your bed room, avoid temptation by keeping it across the room from your bed so it is not directly next to you. It’s also helpful to turn on silent mode, or “Do Not Disturb” mode so you are not interrupted by messages or phone calls while you are trying to fall asleep. Many cell phones have a “night mode” that you can turn on, which uses red light instead of blue light, making the screen dimmer and less intense for your eyes.

In this day and age, for most of us, our digital devices are simply a necessity of life, but we must remember so is our health and well-being. It may be a challenge to find a balance between the two but it’s vital to make room and time in our daily schedules and allow ourselves to properly rest and ‘recharge’.