Millions of Americans have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep every night.
One of the biggest reasons as to why so many people feel unrested is not due to some new life change that has left their lives rocked, or even from an overactive brain. The reasons people can't fall asleep at night is much smaller...
...so small in fact, that it can fit into the palm of their hand: their smartphones.
Modern devices all emit a level of “Blue Glow”
Smartphones, as well as many modern televisions that may be in your bedroom, both emit an invasive light that is referred to as “blue glow”.
This blue radiance allows device users to see their screens clearly in practically all light conditions, both low and extreme. The downside? This blue light affects brain waves in just the right way that it may alter the hormone productions of melatonin, the property responsible for sleep and deep rest.
“While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully” reports a study by Harvard Medical. The team at Harvard conducted a study on the effects of various colored light waves and and their effect on the eyes and brain. The result showed that blue light was the most disruptive wave of directed light.
“Blue light suppresses melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours)”.
The bottom line: the blue light emitted from smartphones is disrupting the brain's ability to produce adequate sleep hormones, and it's one of the reasons we are feeling so tired all of the time.
Short of cutting ties to our smartphones, what can each of us do to reclaim the sleep that we used to enjoy at length?
Below are a few tips that can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night.
Keep away from emails and text messaging
Many of us are still flipping through work emails and group chats long after we slip under the covers of our beds. According to studies, it is recommended to wind down on thinking about work and other critical thinking inducing problems at least a half hour before bed.
If reading is a must for you to fall asleep, read a paper book or at least switch to paper white e-readers
Reading or writing in a journal is a popular aid that helps sleep-seekers unwind and recenter themselves as their day comes to a close. However, now that it’s almost 2018, we have made the switch to digital devices with screens, many of which use backlit and blue light emitting screens.
To keep your routine but still reduce your blue light consumption, consider swapping your backlit device for one that is front lit, like a paperwhite e-reader. Of course, nothing else compares to a physical paperbound book being read by lamplight.
Reading a physical paperbound book comes with a stronger sense of accomplishment after reading from cover to cover anyway… wouldn't you agree?
Opt out of scrolling through social media
Scrolling relentlessly through social media platforms may make sleep harder to achieve as your emotional spikes can cause your brain to start racing through countless thoughts.
"Can't Sleep? Neither Can 60 Million Other Americans." NPR.org. 2008.
"Melatonin: In Depth." NCCIH. 2014.
"Blue Light Has A Dark Side - Harvard Health." Harvard Health. 2015.
Markman A.. "How To Forget About Work When You’Re Not Working." Harvard Business Review. 2017.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.