You know that inkling of trepidation you feel as you consider a cup of coffee after dinner? Your cell phone, iPad and e-reader possess the same power to disrupt your sleep.
Everyone enjoys a little cuddle at bedtime — a few minutes to check email, catch up on Facebook or read an article. Often, those few stolen minutes multiply, until we’ve spent an hour canoodling with our smart phone or e-reader, our eyes soaking up all that blue light.
The blue light emitted by electronic screens is collected by retinal cells behind the eyes. These cells signal the brain centers that regulate our circadian rhythm. Our body clocks interpret blue light as “morning”, and our brains respond with increased alertness and energy.
Hence, our electronic indulgence after dark interrupts our sleep patterns. Here’s a video that explains the science behind how smart phones, iPads and laptops keep you awake.
Unlike the blue light given off by most electronics, red light, naturally abundant at dusk, signals our brain that it is time to slow down and prepare for sleep. There is software you can download which makes your computer variate the brightness and color of the light it emits, more closely mimicking the natural light cycle.
A healthy night’s sleep is critical to our emotional and physical well-being. The National Institutes of Health reports that sleep is critical to a healthy immune system and proper brain functioning.
The NIH offers free, downloadable information on the latest science-based research about sleep in Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.
Most of us use our cell phones as alarm clocks. If that’s your habit, consider keeping your phone across the room on a dresser to limit temptation. Or, go old school with a traditional alarm clock.