Updated: May 17, 2021
Quality sleep has become more elusive as our lives have gotten busier, technology more accessible and we cannot leave out the extended screen time from many jobs. But, sleep is necessary for mental and physical health. Let's explore some ways to get a better night's sleep!
So many people struggle with sleep! Something that is so important to us, but often taken for granted. I will not try to discuss all the components of sleep in this one blog as it would be easy to write at least seven blogs on the topic of sleep. But, let’s focus on a few things that will help us get to sleep.
The Cleveland Clinic tells us that “The blue light from your phone is an artificial color that mimics daylight. This can be great during the day since it can make you feel more alert, but it’s just the opposite of what you need at night when you’re winding down to hit the hay.” That blue light is very stimulating to both the mind and body. Include an interesting or invigorating video on Facebook, Tik Tok or Twitter and now you are gonna be up all night long! How is it already 3am? Bedtime was 11:30pm! We won’t discuss the addictive nature of social media, but there are a few things at play here.
Continuing on…The blue light from your phone, television, computer or tablet is so powerful that it can disrupt hormones in your body such as melatonin. Now, you need melatonin in order to help you sleep. If you don’t have enough, you might find yourself turning into a lil crank crank version of yourself during the day. Your body naturally produces it and if it is something you choose to take, be mindful. Be INCREDIBLY mindful if you choose to give it to your children.
So, how do you navigate this world of being surrounded by blue light, ESPECIALLY in the era of COVID-19? Why do I mention COVID-19 here, well we learn from United Health Care that “Amid COVID-19, screen time continues to increase and screens may be getting closer and closer to the eyes for many people. As many Americans work and learn from home, employees and students are spending an increasing amount of time in front of digital displays that emit potentially harmful levels of blue light.”
So, we are spending far more time on our devices, it is potentially harmful to our eyes, but also our sleep.
Now, for the help. The simple yet complex option is to put the phone down one hour before bed. No screens. Many schools of thought say to eliminate the screen time for one hour, however, Harvard tells us “Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.” Honestly, That doesn’t feel doable most days for me, however, that is an aspirational goal. Go fold some laundry or meal prep.
Sounds nice…but personally, I’m not gonna do any of those! But, you might! Try it and report back. For those of us where the laundry folding will have to wait a bit longer another option on many newer smart devices it to set the blue light function. If that is not an option, one fantastic idea is blue light blocking glasses. Remember the United Health Care study? Well, we learn that potentially 94% of eye doctors are concerned about the increase of screen time (upwards of 13 hours). But, if you add in the blue light blocking glasses and you have increased potential for sleep improvement as well as a mood boost (remember that blue light is brutal of melatonin, which will be impactful for mood)
Mental Health America advises us that the “use of electronics has prolonged our daily exposure. Likewise, artificial lighting tends to be strongest from digital screens, which often produce strong blue light wavelengths.
Exposure to nighttime lighting can disrupt the circadian rhythm. This disruption likely leads to a lower quality and quantity of sleep- which can result in suppression of several processes that are known to affect mood.” Personally, we've used Blue Light Blocking Glasses in my household, but we managed to lose them! But, honestly after reviewing all of these articles and writing this blog, I know I need to find them again or find a good price on a new set!
Cheers to good sleep!