You may already be aware of the effects of sleep deprivation on your health and happiness. While the effects can be subtle at first, you may eventually notice increased impulsiveness, difficulty concentrating, weight gain or chronic pain. When you don’t get enough rest, life becomes a struggle.
If you struggle to turn off your brain and fall asleep, you may have already tried some of the many recommended sleep solutions. You could be disappointed to discover that cutting back on caffeine or sticking to a sleep schedule are not the right solutions for everyone. Don’t give up yet; you could be holding the cause of your sleep issues in the palm of your hand.
Your Natural Sleep Cycle
Sleep is regulated by a fairly complex system. Your body responds to the natural progression of light and darkness to set your circadian rhythms, your sleep cycle. When the sun begins to set, your body starts producing melatonin
, the hormone you need to help you fall asleep. Surprisingly, your electronic gadgets can interfere with the natural production of melatonin. That phone in your hand is more than a sleep distraction; it may be a sleep deterrent.
Modern Technology Interferes with Melatonin Production
The cause of your sleep struggle could be the light from your favorite electronic gadget. Your electronic devices emit blue light
through their screens. This blue light is similar to natural sunlight, but more intense. Your electronic conveniences confuse your brain and interfere with your circadian rhythms. Some common blue light sources include:
- Indoor lighting
- Television screens
- Laptops and tablets
- Cell phones
Blue Light Interferes with Your Sleep Cycle
Your brain and your body are geared to respond to a day/night cycle, but the blue light from your computer, cell phone or tablet signal your brain that it is time to be awake. Your natural production of melatonin won’t begin until your light exposure decreases.
You may be one of the unfortunate blue light victims who lie awake for an hour or more before drifting off. You could be pleased to learn that a few simple modifications could help you fall asleep easier. Some suggested modifications
- Increase your exposure to sunlight by taking an afternoon walk or allowing more light to stream in through your windows can help reset your sleep cycle. Increasing your exposure to natural blue light during the day can help make your system more responsive to the reduction of blue light at night.
- Set some of your lights to a dimmer switch. Dim the lights in your home a few hours before you plan to go to bed, ideally at the same time each night. Decreasing the amount of blue light exposure will increase your melatonin production.
- Avoid using your electronic devices in You should restrict your computer, tablet, television or phone usage 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to sleep. This reduces your exposure to blue light and increases your melatonin production to help drift off to sleep much faster.
- If you bristle at the thought of restricting your usage, consider downloading a computer program or app for your phone that reduces the emission of the blue light spectrum. These programs will dim your screen and block the blue rays. A quick search online will reveal many free blue light reducing
- Try using a red light in your bedroom, so getting ready for bed won’t jar your brain awake. Some people also place red light bulbs in rooms they spend the most time in before bed. Red light will not interfere with melatonin production.
- Wear orange lenses in the evening while using your phone or spending time on your computer. Oranges lenses block blue Orange lenses have been shown to be helpful for overcoming insomnia and are available through many eye care professionals.
Since your body relies on a dark/light cycle to regulate your sleep cycle, your exposure electronic gadgets could be keeping you from falling asleep and reducing the quality of the sleep you get. Increasing your natural sunlight exposure during the afternoon, decreasing your exposure to blue light and resisting the urge to use your devices in bed could help you drift off to sleep faster and sleep more soundly.
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