Getting a full night of sleep isn’t always easy. The COVID-19 pandemic and the work-from-home orders many people have experienced during 2020 added a new element to sleep deprivation: increased screen time. Thankfully, there are solutions to help treat the effects of increased exposure to screens on your sleep schedule. Once you understand the importance of getting good sleep, check out a few of our recommendations for improving your sleep cycle.
When we sleep, our brain stores memories while also repairing, detoxing, and healing neural processes. Failing to get enough sleep (7-9 hours for most adults) causes our cognitive functions to begin deteriorating. That means you may suffer from impaired attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving ability.
These impairments can be consequential for the average person by resulting in increased:
One of the first steps toward having a good night’s rest will be developing a consistent sleep schedule and a comfortable sleeping environment.
Our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin to regulate our sleep/wake cycle. Exposure to a lot of light reduces the production of this hormone, making us tire slowly. When there is less light, we produce more melatonin, which then makes us tired quickly.
Technology often makes use of screens that produce a substantial amount of light. When we use our devices before going to sleep (up to around 2 hours before), then the production of melatonin has been slowed and falling asleep becomes more challenging.
Reducing the amount of light in the room when you go to bed is a great starting point for developing a good sleep environment. Using heavy curtains and sleep masks, and avoiding looking at bright screens like TVs, smartphones, tablets, and computers within two hours of your scheduled bedtime, can help improve the quality of your rest. Having a determined and fixed sleep schedule (which includes the time you fall asleep and wake up for all days of the week) is beneficial as well.
Meditating before bed to reduce your stress will help your mind relax in preparation for sleeping. You can also control environmental factors, like room temperature and sound, to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. There are several apps you can use to track your sleep cycle.
It’s true that you can slow down the production of melatonin if you expose yourself to increased amounts of light. However, light is a spectrum and not all wavelengths of light affect the production of melatonin the same way.
Studies have found that blue light has a substantial effect on the production of melatonin. A solution to reducing the effect of screen time on your sleep schedule is to use blue light filter glasses.
These work by filtering out certain wavelengths of light emitted from your electronic devices so you can produce melatonin at a higher rate. The result is that you can continue to use your mobile devices, computers, and TVs two to three hours before you plan on going to sleep with a reduced chance of the screen time negatively affecting your sleep schedule and the quality of your sleep