Smartphones have become our lifelines. They are our source of personal conversation, social media, email, picture taking, TV watching, game playing, fitness tracking — the list just goes on and on. Unfortunately, these little handheld devices aren’t as nice to us when it comes to our sleep.
Doctors are finding that using our phones (and even tablets or e-readers) can disrupt our sleep and can lead us to potentially lie awake for an extra hour a night! It appears that certain wavelengths of light that our electric devices are omitting can mess up our natural production of melatonin, a really important chemical that our body needs for sleep.
Apparently, manufacturers have not heard the news (or they’re choosing not to) since newer devices have shown a trend “for bigger, brighter, and bluer lights.” The person who led the study, Professor Gringras of the University of Surrey, called for manufacturers to take responsibility and come up with a design that will alter this sort of light to a nighttime setting — switching to light emissions of red and yellow light and a less intense backlight brightness.
So what does that mean for our sleep in the meantime?
Since the sort of technology that Professor Gringras mentioned isn’t really out there yet, that means we have to cut our ties with our screen time for an hour before bed — if we don’t want to lie awake sleepless and frustrated.
I know, I know, this seems terrible. If you’re like me, you probably like to lie in bed scrolling endlessly through social media, pretending that tomorrow morning is never actually going to come. Or maybe you like to binge-watch your latest TV craving (Vampire Diaries, anyone?) until the last possible moment before you should go to sleep. I am very guilty on both accounts, and I will admit, I never fall asleep quickly.
So, Germ readers, I challenge myself and you to change our nighttime routines. Maybe this means reading a book, drinking a cup of sleepytime tea, or writing in a journal. Whatever your non-screen time relaxation is, do it. Not only will you feel good by doing something a little different in your day, but you’ll be sleeping with far less trouble — and with far less sleep supplements (also guilty).