How to mitigate sleep deprivation caused by phones, tablets and TVs

How to mitigate sleep deprivation caused by phones, tablets and TVs

Those LCDs prevent you from getting Zzzzs.

CultureJune 28, 2018 By Will Brendza

Your phone is killing your quality of sleep. And so is your tablet, your computer, your television. Have you noticed?

Perhaps not. But a new study, published in the "Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research," suggests that screen-time before bed-time can have “detrimental effects on human health and performance.”

That’s bad news for everyone who enjoys reading off their tablet, responding to "you up?" text messages, scouting social media for another ex or binging Netflix before falling asleep. Which ... is probably most everyone.

Because, let’s be honest, when snuggling up in bed, curled up with a pillow and warm sheets, a show or an article or a profile glance or another game sounds like just the ticket. And, more often than not, there’s a device within arm's reach that will deliver.

Don’t be so quick to lunge for it, though — those LCDs are working against your Zzzzs.

The wavelengths of light emitted by screens “significantly disrupted sleep continuity and architecture and [lead] to greater self-reported daytime sleepiness," says the researchers. "[Screen] light also altered biological rhythms, subduing the normal nocturnal decline in body temperature and dampening nocturnal melatonin secretion.”

In short: they fuck with your sleep patterns. And after a nighttime screen binge, even if you get a full 8 hours afterward, the quality of sleep you’re getting is significantly worse than if you’d had no screen interactions at all.

It’s because of that damned blue light. Modern LCD screens emit short wavelength blue light that suppresses the production of melatonin in your brain. Melatonin controls a person’s circadian rhythm and by reducing it, it becomes harder to actually fall asleep.

So, what’s a person to do? Stop watching movies and shows at night? Quit responding to text messages as soon as the sun goes down? Hide your phone and computer from yourself when you get home from work? Shut the lights off and hide in darkness until you pass out drowning in your own tears?

Those would all be effective tactics, certainly. But none of them are truly necessary. If you give yourself 30 minutes of screen-free time before you try to fall asleep, you should be good. You don’t even have to make your bedroom a screen-free zone, but it might help mitigate the temptation to answer text messages that just made your phone buzz.

It’s a lot to ask, though, in 2018. This is the future, after all, where screens are constantly surrounding us, constantly at our disposal and constantly bombarding us with content and communication. Escaping that, even for 30 minutes before sleep, isn't an easy thing to do. Hell, some of you are in bed right now.

But, if this new study is any mark to go by, it’s worth the effort. Like when your dentist tells you to floss every night — it may take some getting used to and a measure of self-discipline, but in the long run you’ll be glad you took the doc’s advice. Even if you miss a night or two, here and there…

[cover photo StockSnap vua Pixabay]