Sleep Hygiene: Can Digital Devices Harm It?

Digital devices such as the smartphone and laptop are some of the most important technological inventions of all time. These devices give us the ability to gain access to knowledge on the go, stay connected with others and be as engaged online as we’ve ever been. But with its advantages come its downsides; mainly how harmful they are to sleep hygiene. 

Below, we discuss how device usage impacts sleep quality and the importance of creating healthy sleep hygiene in order to facilitate better sleep. 

Is Your Device Usage Impacting Your Sleep Quality? 

We are living in an “always-on” society where individuals favour scrolling through social media and watching shows on-demand for hours on end each day. Our need to be close to our phones at all stages of the day has become a major source of concern for sleep specialists all over the world. 

During the Coronavirus pandemic when individuals were encouraged to stay at home, it was even more concerning to note how much we rely on devices for entertainment purposes with over 70% indicating an increase in device usage. But what exactly is the trade-off when it comes to sleep quality? 

The more that we use devices such as TVs, phones and laptops in the lead up to bedtime, the more stimulated our minds become. When our minds are stimulated, it is much harder for our bodies to relax enough to prepare for sleep. And when this happens, Laying awake and staring at the ceiling while waiting for sleep to come is very common.

Using digital devices too soon before going to bed has a direct impact on our ability to sleep well. If this pattern continues over a long period of time, then it severely impacts sleep hygiene.  

What Are The Top Ways That Devices Affect Our Ability To Sleep 

Now that we understand that devices are harmful to sleep quality, let’s take a look at the ways in which it does this. If you are the kind of person to reach for your phone to wind down in the evenings, keep the following in mind:

  • Disrupts Our Internal Body Clock - When our bodies’ ability to wind down is impacted it inevitably disrupts our internal body clock. Each evening, our bodies begin to prepare for going to sleep as natural daylight begins to fade. However, the blue light that is emitted from our devices promotes wakefulness which tricks our brains into believing that it is still day time. The later in the evening we use our devices, the more disruptive it is to our body clock. 
  • Prevents The Release Of Melatonin - The blue light that is emitted by digital devices has also been linked to the suppression of melatonin. The hormone melatonin is responsible for regulating the body’s circadian rhythms. As blue light mimics daylight, it has the ability to slow down the production of melatonin. 
  • Stimulates The Brain - As we already touched on above, digital devices increase brain activity. Which isn’t surprising really considering that they were designed to make us more productive. The more that we check digital devices, the more it re-triggers our brains into being productive. Doing this even for a split second can prolong sleep by up to an hour. 
  • Delays REM Sleep - While we may not think it, being digitally connected 24/7 has the ability to elicit a range of emotions including sadness, happiness and anger. Triggering these emotions late at night can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and distracting thoughts which all contribute to delaying REM sleep. 

  • Filtering Out Blue Light: Why This Is Vital For A Healthy Sleep Hygiene

    In order to make sleep hygiene a priority once more, we need to create healthy habits that cut back on our device addiction at night. Setting ground rules for yourself and in the case of families, your children, in the lead up to bedtime is the first step to getting sleep quality back on track. 

    The trick is focusing on activities that filter out blue light at least two hours before falling asleep. Our sleep environments should be free from digital distractions and devices. That means no phones, laptops, TVs or gaming devices. Instead, fill your evenings with alternative relaxing activities such as reading, taking a warm bath, colouring or following a guided meditation. 

    While our daily lives may require the use of digital devices, sleeping does not. So ditch the smartphone and create a healthy sleep hygiene routine that will allow you to sleep better than ever before.


    Older Post Newer Post