Are you having a hard time getting enough shut-eye? Adults typically need between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep each night, but it can be hard to set aside that amount of time - especially if you work full time and have a house full of kids. However, your job and children might not actually be to blame for your lack of rest. Instead, the real culprit might be your ever-glowing electronics that are constantly beckoning you to message, play, read, or post. Here are four reasons electronics can alter your sleep habits, and what you can do to get the rest you need.
1. They Stress You Out
Do you have emails to respond to? Friends who just can’t leave you alone? Facebook messages that you need to answer? Most people these days reach for their tablet or smartphone at night before drifting off to sleep, trying to tackle the never ending list of work responsibilities, tweets and texts offered so generously by the Internet.
Unfortunately, opening your work email account or reading the nightly news might have negative impacts on your sleep because it can stress you out. If you read a sad news story or notice an offensive social media post, your brain might send a rush of chemicals throughout your body that triggers the fight-or-flight response. Cortisol, which is the main stress induction hormone, runs rampant when your brain senses a threat. In addition to making your heart rate increase, cortisol also puts your muscles on high-alert—waking you up in case your body has to respond quickly. However, because you aren’t actually responding to an emergency, all that cortisol will actually do is make it hard to fall asleep. Instead of being able to drift off to sleep naturally and peacefully, you might end up tossing and turning worrying about what Jack said on Facebook.
To ward off sleep problems tied to new information, set a time every night when you will stop checking your smartphone, tablet, and computer. Instead, read a book, spend time with your partner, or find some other relaxing activity to ease you toward sleep.
2. The Light Changes Your Brain Chemistry
Besides annoying tweets, there might be a deeper reason that a glance at your smartphone could make it hard to fall asleep. New research has shown that people who tend to look at their electronic devices before bed have lower levels of melatonin in their bodies, which is the chemical your brain produces to induce sleep. Researchers suspect that the faint bluish glow that emanates from smartphones, tablets, and computer screens passes through your retina and into your hypothalamus, where it stops melatonin production.
To prevent minimizing your melatonin levels, sleep experts once again recommend scheduling an “unwind time” about 15-30 minutes before bed where you don’t use electronics. Although this might seem difficult, ignoring technology before bed is a lot easier if you remove devices from your room. Don’t keep a TV in your room and leave your computer downstairs. Charge your cell phone in your master bathroom, where it isn’t as easily accessible. Although these might seem like small changes, they can bring a significant improvement in your sleep quality within a few nights.
3. They Don’t Do Anything To Relax You
When you really think about technology, you have to admit - it doesn’t do a lot to relax you. Although most people claim that they use their cell phones or computers to catch up with old friends or play a few fun games, many of these interactions involve a lot of thinking, which is counterproductive to your relaxation and sleep efforts.
On the other hand, mattress manufacturers now offer some great products to help you to relax and enjoy yourself in the evening. Some adjustable bed frames offer massage settings that can give your feet a nice rub while you read a book, while other mattresses are designed with special fabric toppers that feel cool and comforting to the touch. You can even find mattress protectors that contain essential oils—giving you the benefits of aromatherapy while you drift off to sleep.
4. Electronics Alter Your Sleep Hygiene
What do you use your bed for? If you use it for anything other than sleeping and getting close to your partner, you might be altering your “sleep hygiene.” Sleep hygiene is defined as actions that encourage healthy sleep habits, and unfortunately, electronics are sleep hygiene killers, capable of dismantling your nighttime routine in an instant.
Sleep experts encourage people concerned about their sleep hygiene to establish a regular, relaxing nighttime routine that revolves around rest, and to only associate your bed with sleep.
For more information about sleeping better, visit your nearest Las Vegas mattress store. Mattress experts can talk with you about your sleep habits, complaints, and overall goals so that they can guide you towards products that will improve your experience.