Smartphones: The Sleep Killer You Didn’t See Coming

Most people are well aware of the importance of sleep. It helps conserve energy, aids in weight loss, improves concentration and more. However, recent discoveries have also shown that poor sleep can be a predictor for certain mental health disorders as well. In short, an appropriate amount of sleep is important for a sound body and mind. However, our obsession with our smart phones could be hindering this important aspect of our daily lives.

This is why it is so daunting to learn that the vast majority of people across the world aren’t getting as much shut-eye as they need. What is even more frustrating, though, is the fact that smart phones or rather smart phone usage are largely to blame for this phenomenon.

According to the most recent 2019 results by Common Sense Media, it is estimated that one-third of teenagers take their phones to bed. Adults aren’t any better, however. The results show that 62 percent of parents also use their phone in bed.

Damaging Effects of Smart Phones on Your Sleep

If you think that smart phones can’t have too much of an impact on your sleep schedule, just take a look at all the damage that these devices can do:

Disrupt Sleeping Patterns

One of the biggest issues with these hand-held devices is that they can disrupt sleeping patterns. See, your sleep patterns are determined by your circadian rhythm. This controls the time you start to get sleepy or feel alert naturally.

Now, the circadian rhythm is regulated by a substance known as melatonin. When melatonin is secreted, it sends signals to the circadian rhythm that is time for your body to start winding down. The problem, however, is that the blue light given out by phone screen displays can impact melatonin production.

Blue light has the capability to suppress the production of melatonin – much more than other kinds of light. So, if you are using your phone right before going to bed, you are unlikely to feel tired. In fact, it could be quite a while until your body is ready to go to sleep.  

Keep Your Brain Alert

Let’s think about what you do when you are on your phone. You may either be relaxing by scrolling through images, watching videos, or chatting with people. If you are still in work mode, then there is a good chance you are responding to emails.

Well, regardless of what you’re doing, your brain is kept alert. In fact, the more engrossing your activity is, the more engaged you will be in it. So, even if you power down your display and put your phone away, your brain is still working on what you just saw or did.

Once again, this means that you are unable to fall asleep as quickly as you normally would. Therefore, your bedtime will end up being pushed further and further back. Considering that you still have to wake up at the same time in the morning, you will end up losing sleep.

“FOMO” smartphones | Longevity LIVE

It is estimated that the average person checks their smart phone every 12 minutes! This is a staggering statistic, but the bad news doesn’t just end here. See, when people get into this habit, they find it difficult to switch it off at night-time.

Therefore, it isn’t unusual to find people waking up to check their phone, simply because they are used to doing so. This effect worsens even further when you take the “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO into consideration. People are afraid to take a break from their smart phones, even at night because they don’t want to miss out on the latest news.  

They Wake You Up

These days, every application on your phone is equipped with notifications. This way, you stay informed the moment there is a status update or something new is happening. Now, the whole purpose of these notifications is to make you sit up and take notice of what is going on.

Unfortunately, this applies to night time as well. A lit up display, pings, and any kind of notification really can interrupt your sleep. This is especially true if you are in a lighter phase of your slumber. During this time, you are more likely to wake up if there is any change in your environment.

Unsure about this effect? Well, consider tracking your sleep cycle. If you do this, you will see just how many times a night you are being disturbed by your phone.

Can Aggravate Existing Sleep Problems

Quite a few people around the world suffer from insomnia. Well, there is one form of this condition known as sleep maintenance insomnia. This is when you have a tendency to wake up in the early hours of the morning. While smart phones aren’t responsible for this particular sleep problem, they can aggravate it.

After all, most people reach for their phones when they find it difficult to go back to sleep. Of course, when this happens, they are exposed to blue light which interrupts their melatonin production. To add to this, your brain is in a more alert state as well.

Both these things, combined, means that you are going to have a much harder time going back to sleep. Therefore, your sleep issues will only worsen.

Now, if the situation seems rather bleak here, it doesn’t have to continue to be. This is because there are a number of simple solutions at hand. To start with, it is important to cut down on the use of smart phones, at least at night-time. This will make it a lot easier for your body to follow its natural sleep processes.

You should also get into the habit of placing your phone outside the bedroom before you go to sleep. Use a traditional alarm clock to wake up instead. While doing this may seem a bit counterintuitive, it is one of the best strategies you can rely on.

After some time, you will notice that it is a lot easier for you to go to sleep. What’s more, when you drift off, you will discover that you don’t wake up nearly as much during the night. As you can see, there is quite a bit you can do to remedy the issues mentioned here.

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