How to Stop Technology from Hurting Your Sleep

by Jenn Parks October 12, 2014 3 min read

The release of the iPhone 6 on September 19th resulted in hoards of people waiting hours in line, and, for the ultra dedicated – days – in order to get the highly anticipated new Smartphone from Apple.

Indeed, people love their iPhones, and smartphones in general for that matter, because whether it’s the iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy, Smartphones make life easier. And let’s face it, a little cooler, too.

The days of lugging along a camera to capture memories are fading fast and I haven’t had a true alarm clock in years. My smartphone is a toddler entertainer, my work-life organizational lifeline, my news source, and how I know that girl I graduated high school with left her husband for the bug exterminator.

But with all the wonderful things that it is, it’s coolness and convenience can come at a price. It’s hurting how you sleep.

More and more research has shown that radiation and LED light emitted from cell phones, tablets and mobile devices delays and disrupts sleep.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Amanda Gamble, from Sydney’s Woolcock Insomnia Clinic, states that, “devices emit light and they’re often held close to the face, in the case of an iPad for example. The light suppresses melatonin [and] that makes it harder to fall asleep and delays the sleep pattern.”

In turn, according to a 2008 study, it’s affecting how our body repairs itself throughout the day.

The study by Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF), which includes the likes of Nokia and Motorola, found that, “during laboratory exposure to 884 MHz wireless signals, components of sleep, believed to be important for recovery from daily wear and tear, are adversely affected.”

And that’s not all. Aside from the effects of light and radiation that’s released, Smartphones are mentally and physically arousing. Our constant need to stay connected fuels our tendencies to obsessively check our handset, including right before bed.

“Checking your work emails before bed on any electronic device is essentially the equivalent of drinking a double espresso last thing at night,” said Dr. Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre.

Our minds and bodies need a chance to wind down from the day, and reading that email from your irate client, when you need to be settling down, raises your anxiety, stress level, and possibly blood pressure, making it difficult to get the Z’s you need.

Adding to this problem is that most of us sleep with it beside the bed, alerting us of late night texts, emails and calendar alerts – again, provoking our desire to check the phone….just one more time.

So, what do we do?

We live in a wired world and that won’t change – in fact, it’s only going to get more connected. People aren’t just going to get rid of their mobile devices – their lifeline to the rest of the world – because these studies have come out. However, we must also be mindful that good ‘ole fashion sleep is important – no, essential – to our wellbeing. So, as we’re faced with two necessary evils, it’s important to find a balance and set some limits.

Electronic Curfew.

This may be a hard one for some, especially at first, but a 7am – 7pm timeframe for checking your phone is more than reasonable. After 7pm, consider electronic-free activities, like yoga, meditation or a nice bath, to unwind from the day.

Keep Technology Out…of the bedroom.

This includes cell phones, tablets, computers and, yes, TV. Your bedroom should be restricted to sleeping, relaxing and intimacy.

Dampening glasses.

If you’re simply unable (read: not willing) to give yourself electronic limits, try dampening glasses. These glasses, which filter out the most damaging lights, are a good option.

f.lux App.

Again, if self control isn’t your thing, consider installing the f.lux app. Your computer and mobile device screens are designed to look like the sun, which is fine up until 8pm-ish. This app automatically adjusts the color of your device’s screen to reflect the time of day and where you’re located.

The bottom line is that our technology-obsessed society is interfering with our sleep, but a harmonious relationship between the two can exist – as long as you set some limits.

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