You're currently using an outdated browser (). For more security and a better browsing experience for this site, please update your browser.
If you're having trouble falling asleep at night, it could be your phone that's keeping you awake.
The endless interactivity of our phones is creating a pattern of dependency that is harmful to our sleep
How often do you find yourself spending hours on your phone at bedtime when you should be sleeping? Or compulsively reaching for your phone each time you get a notification instead of allowing yourself to drift off to sleep? Phones are designed to be interactive and prompt an immediate response from users, and activities are often 'endless'. For instance, you can surf the web for hours with one website link leading you to another, social media applications feature visual feeds that enable users to 'scroll down' indefinitely. Researchers in Norway found that that this type of boundless interactivity may have alerting effects on our brain due to the blue light emanating from electronic screens. High availability of the device also makes it easy to have it within an arm's reach, making it easier for us to compulsively check our phones, encouraging a pattern of dependence.
In 2012, researchers in Norway examined the effect of electronic devices on the sleep patterns of nearly, 10,000 adolescents aged 16-19. They found that phone use at bedtime significantly increased sleep deficiency. Another study by California State University, monitored the effects of technology on the sleep patterns of college students. Findings echoed the results in Norway with researchers determining a direct link between increased daily smartphone usage at bedtime and sleep problems caused by anxiety/dependence on a device.
The screen on our phones emits blue light which suppresses melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy
Melatonin is a sleep-promoting hormone in humans that signals to our body clock that it's time to sleep. Exposure to light resets and disrupts melatonin production in our pineal gland. In 2013, researchers from the Lighting Research Center in the US found that "exposure to light from self-luminous displays may be linked to increased risk for sleep disorders because these devices emit optical radiation at short wavelengths, close to the peak sensitivity of melatonin suppression." 2011 findings published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that chronic exposure to artificial light at night "disrupts melatonin signalling and could therefore potentially impact sleep, thermoregulation, blood pressure, and glucose homeostasis." Blue light that emanates from our phone screens has an alerting effect on our brains and suppresses melatonin production which is essential in maintaining a healthy internal body clock and sleep pattern.
As we become increasingly dependent on technology for our daily tasks, our lifestyles continue to be shaped by our phones and how we consume information. This shift in our lifestyle and behaviour becomes particularly concerning during bedtime when we need to be minimising visual and mental stimulation and preparing ourselves for rest and rejuvenation. Read about how you can start sleeping clean here.
Tips on how to minimise phone use at bedtime:
Share this on