Unplug Before Bed
Whether the difficulty is falling asleep or staying asleep, sleep disturbance has become a common complaint among many Americans. Although there are many different causes of sleep disturbance, we are seeing a correlation between increased stimulation through electronic devices and sleep disruption.
Electronics emit a blue hue that is similar to daylight. Reading from an iPad, eReader, laptop, smartphone or watching TV before bed not only makes it harder to fall asleep, but also impacts how alert you are the next day. A recent study also found that the glow from electronic devices passes through the retina into a part of the hypothalamus that suppresses the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.
Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being. A sleep deficit, or poor quality of sleep has been linked to other health problems like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Here are a few tips that can improve the quality of your sleep and help you unplug before bed. You should also talk to your doctor if you are having difficulties with sleep to make sure there are not underlying medical conditions contributing to your sleep problems.
Tips For Healthier Sleep Habits:
- Avoid the use of light-emitting screens before bedtime. Experts suggest giving yourself a curfew from electronics in order to prepare your body for restful sleep. Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes to one hour before bed. (Some say no electronics up to 2 hours before bed.)
- Engage in other relaxing activities aside from using electronic devices, such as taking a warm bath, meditating for 5-10 minutes, doing breathing exercises, or playing calming music.
- Reserve the bedroom for sleep and sex only. Do not watch TV or eat in bed.
- Read an actual printed book.
- Reduce the amount of ambient light as much as possible, such as electronic clocks and stereos. Try using darker window shades or an eye mask to block out any extra light.
- If you must be on your tablet, phone or computer before bed, there are software filters available that block or soften the blue light emitted by screens. There are various apps you can download for Android or iPhone, or if you are using your computer, download a freeprogram like f.lux, which automatically makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day.
-By Mallory Anderson, ND ('14) resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health