According to statistics, over 1.2 billion people worldwide experience a variety of sleep issues as of today. From sleep apnea to snoring and insomnia, a sleep disorder can affect almost anyone if it is not correctly handled. In fact, according to a study, more than 37.9% of workers unintentionally fell asleep in the preceding 30 days.
Nighttime is supposed to be for sleep and rest. When tampered with, the consequences can be devastating. A report by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that sleep-driving was thought to be the cause of over 72,000 car accidents. Many factors can affect your sleep, but for the sake of this article, we will be discussing technology and different ways it can affect your night sleep.
Ways by Which Technology Affects Your Sleep
Most activities we carry out today involve technology in one form or another. As much as these technologies have made our lives easier, they can also deprive you of adequate sleep and rest.
A survey carried out on a number of Americans found that about 95% of them use some form of electronics an hour or less before bedtime. What they fail to understand is that the usage of technology at least 2 hours before bedtime can significantly affect their sleep.
According to experts, artificial light from your electronic devices can adversely affect your sleep pattern by tampering with melatonin secretion in your brain. Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone secreted by the brain and is also responsible for the control of your body’s internal clock.
The secretion of this hormone is highest at night and lowest during the day. That explains why you are more likely to feel sleepy at night than during the day.
When you engage in activities that negatively affect melatonin secretion just before bedtime, you are likely to experience delays before falling asleep or inability to stay asleep for long.
Discussed below are the various ways by which technology usage affects your sleep, and how you can avoid them to sleep better.
- Increased Stimulation of the Brain
Studies have shown that we need at least two hours before bedtime to unwind and enter into a relaxed mode required for a good night’s rest. Any activity that falls within that hour can disrupt our sleep pattern, thereby causing a delay in sleep time.
As much as our daily activities are essential for the growth and maintenance of the brain, it is best to avoid them just before bedtime if you wish to have a good shut-eye at night.
Activities like watching a movie just before bedtime can serve as a stimulant to the brain as it loads it with plenty of information to process. This can lead to a lack of sleep as it is almost impossible for the brain to shut off this information processing and switch to sleep mode immediately.
Once the brain is stimulated, it needs time to unwind before switching to sleep mode. This “unwinding” time is a shortage of your required sleep hours.
- Exposure to Blue Light
Blue light is a short wavelength artificial light that is emitted by most of your electronic devices such as laptops, phones, tablets, and TV screens. And just like we mentioned earlier, these blue/artificial light is capable of inhibiting the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
People who are exposed to blue light before bedtime have a hard time falling asleep compared to those who aren’t. Due to the delay in melatonin release, your brain still thinks it is daytime, thereby keeping you awake. The more you look at blue light just before bedtime, the harder it is for you to fall asleep.
- Unwanted Sounds
Aside from delaying melatonin release, sounds made by technological devices can also disrupt your sleep. It is a known fact that noise disrupts sleep, and these disruptions are attached to health issues such as stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
Since more than 70% of people sleep holding their smartphones or having them in the bedroom with them, sudden sounds from notifications can cause someone already in a deep sleep to wake up, thereby disrupting their sleep cycle.
It is even worse when you become addicted to your mobile phone because your brain will tend to pick up sounds made by your mobile phone quickly, even when you are asleep.
- Electromagnetic Radiation from Wifi Devices
Just like blue light, WiFi signals can delay the release of melatonin, thereby keeping us awake even when we are supposed to be asleep. It is no wonder that experts advise that you keep all electronic devices away from your bedroom if you wish to have an undisturbed night’s rest.
All electronic devices capable of producing a wireless internet connection are capable of filling an enclosed space (such as your bedroom) with electromagnetic signals. Your brain responds to these signals by keeping you awake.
Addiction to technology is real. This is more reason why people find it hard to let go of technology, even when it is bedtime.
Generally, researchers can determine how addicted you are to a device by checking how much time you spend interacting with that device. The higher your addiction, the more difficult it is for you to fall asleep.
How to Prevent Technology From Disturbing Your Sleep
- Keep All Electronic Devices Away from Your Bedroom
Sleep experts advise that you reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex alone. All electronic devices should be kept outside the bedroom to prevent artificial light, electromagnetic radiation, and the temptation of going through your phone in the middle of the night when you are supposed to be asleep.
Also, when you make use of your bedroom for sleep and intimacy only, you train your brain to recognize that each time you are in your bedroom, it is time to sleep. That way, you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Turn off All Notifications
If for any reason you must have your device with you, you should be sure to reduce notification sounds to the barest minimum or turn it off completely. And if any special notification may need your attention, you can set your device to make a sound for just that notification.
- Reduce Exposure to Artificial Light
All forms of artificial light from your technological devices such as bulbs, TV screens, and mobile phones, can delay melatonin release, thereby keeping you awake. That is why experts advise that you dim the lights in your room at night to aid melatonin secretion by the brain to help you sleep better.
- Avoid All Forms of Electronics at Least an Hour Before Bedtime
If you like reading through your phone before bedtime, you can try hardcover books, or practice some other sleep-friendly activities like meditation and yoga. The most crucial point is that you need to reduce interaction with technology before bedtime because of the diverse ways it hinders your sleep.
It is no doubt that technology makes life easier for us; however, it also has some negative effects on the way we live our lives. Some sleep disorders such as snoring and insomnia are associated with sleep deprivation, of which technology is one of the major causes.
You can control how much quality sleep you get when you understand the ways technology affects your rest. A lack of sleep is attached to sicknesses like obesity and many others; hence, it is essential to pay attention to how much sleep you are getting, and how technology is stopping you from getting quality sleep.