Is screen time ruining your sleep?

Do you find yourself constantly checking to see if your friends have responded to your latest Instagram post? Are you hooked on your tablet because you can’t miss your favourite Netflix episode?

Spending hours on your smartphone, laptop or tablet is a hard habit to break. Especially just before you go to bed.

The bad news is that’s exactly the time when you should be shutting down your screen.

Screentime in bed

3 Ways screen time leads to poor quality sleep

1. More screen time means fewer hours of sleep

We love our devices because they hook us into news of our friends and the wider world. At bedtime, we often plan to spend ‘just a few minutes’ checking-in. But it’s not uncommon to get lost in the social media void. Next thing you know, an hour or two has gone by – precious time you’d otherwise spend sleeping.

The latest US National Sleep Foundation poll reports that only 10% of people prioritise sleep over other activities.

Having fewer hours of sleep can lead to all sorts of health issues. People report feeling more stressed and being less satisfied with life in general. It can also lead to you being ‘less effective’ the following day.

2. The blue light from your screen can affect your sleep

The light from your device ‘tricks’ the body into thinking it’s still daytime and not time to rest. Blue wavelengths of light help boost attention, reaction time and mood during the day. But excessive exposure to them at night can disrupt our sleep patterns.

Your digital devices produce significantly more blue light than other light sources.

They suppress your body’s production of melatonin. That’s the hormone that regulates your body clock and helps you sleep.

A Harvard Medical School study suggests that this interruption to our circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion could lead to diabetes and obesity.

3. Only use your bedroom for restful activities

Your bedroom is your sanctuary.

When we use our devices in bed, we’re setting-up an association that our bedroom is a place for something other than restful sleep – or a cuddle with your loved one.

 

What you can do

  • Replace your blue nightlights with red ones. They have less power to affect melatonin production.
  • Avoid screens two to three hours before bedtime – grab a book instead.
  • Get a red or orange reading lamp, which doesn't emit blue light. Candlelight is a great alternative too.
  • Try wearing blue-light-blocking glasses. Or install an app that filters blue light on your devices such as lux or Twilight.
  • Get some sunshine during the day. This will keep you alert during the day and help you sleep better at night.