Smartphones have changed the world, but are they keeping you up at night?
With just a touch we can have instant access to news, sports, weather, games and even the Internet. For many people, their phone is the first thing they check in the morning and the last thing they check at night. Unfortunately, this may be causing them to lose sleep at night.
As it turns out, blue-spectrum light from displays like the one a smartphone has is believed to interfere with the body’s ability to produce melatonin. This hormone is a major component of the sleep cycle, and without it you’ll stay up later and have more trouble getting to sleep.
Over time, this can lead to fatigue, reduced productivity during the day and may even require prescription sleep aids to help you get to sleep at night.
Blame It on the Phone
Because the light that smartphones release suppresses melatonin production, using your phone late at night interferes with your sleep cycle and your biological clock.
This can result in you getting less sleep at night, waking up tired and may even cause you to sleep through your alarm in the morning.
Looking at a bright phone screen late at night can also increase instances of eye strain, giving you headaches and making your eyes work harder to perform their normal tasks during the day. If you work at a computer then this can make the strain even worse, possibly making it so bad that it negatively affects your productivity during the day.
Put the Phone Down
The best thing that you can do is check your phone and all your smartphone apps for the last time at least an hour before you plan on going to bed.
Shut off your various electronic devices, placing them somewhere that they won’t be easily accessible during the night. The last thing that you need to do is finally get to sleep at a decent hour and then pick up your phone when you wake up to go to the bathroom.
If it’s possible, you should try to keep your devices out of the bedroom altogether. If you put your phone on a charger or in a cradle overnight, set it up in a different room so you won’t be able to grab it easily. Set quiet hours on the phone as well so that it doesn’t disturb anyone if you receive texts or other alerts during the night while the phone is in a common area in the house.
Adjust the Settings
If for some reason you do need to check your phone soon before bed, try adjusting your phone’s settings to reduce the amount of blue light it puts off.
Both Android and iPhone have apps that adjust the color temperature of the screen at night, giving things more of an orange cast and reducing the amount of blue that shines through. This will significantly reduce the amount of melatonin-suppressing blue light you’re exposed to right before bed.
You should also reduce your screen’s brightness at night to reduce the risk of eye strain. Most phones have an “automatic” brightness option that changes the brightness based on the amount of light it detects, so your phone can adjust its brightness down when it’s dark at night. These settings don’t always react right away, though, so there may be some instances where you need to manually crank down the brightness yourself.
If you’re still having problems getting to sleep, you can actually buy melatonin supplements at most drug and convenience stores.
They’re included in with the vitamins and other supplements, and they give your body a boost of melatonin that will help trigger sleepiness. Just make sure that you consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement, and avoid screens as much as possible before taking your supplement pills.
It may be difficult to change your pre-bedtime routines, but once you get used to sleeping without hitting your phone up first you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it makes.