Goodnight, smartphone

14 Jul 2016
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Powering down before bed for a good night’s sleep is essential for health and well-being. Checking emails or flipping through channels instead of sleeping? Playing video games or browsing social media in bed? If you want to catch some quality ZZZs, you should put down that smartphone.

The National Sleep Foundation in the United States has found that nearly 90 per cent of adults sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom. However, staring at a screen after 9pm can zap your body of energy, turning you into a zombie the next day. To get a good night’s sleep, consider shutting off all electronics before climbing into bed.

How Electronics Affect Your Sleep

Your body functions on a 24-hour internal clock. This clock is influenced by your physical environment and daily schedule. Using electronic devices around bedtime can throw off your body clock and negatively affect your quality of sleep.

Light and darkness affect your body clock. Staring at the blue glow of electronic devices – computers, tablets, televisions, gaming systems and/or smartphones – before bedtime can trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime. The artificial light sends messages to the brain to wake up, and activates the body. This, in turn, can reset your body clock, delaying your normal sleep cycle.

Studies show that staring at bright screens within four hours of bedtime reduces melatonin, a hormone that makes you naturally tired when it’s time to sleep. This can cause difficulty when trying to fall asleep, poor quality of sleep or sleep disorders, such as insomnia.

In the long run, problems sleeping at night can affect you during the day. A lack of proper sleep can lead to impaired focus at work, trouble remembering, fatigue, stress and even weight gain.

Get Off the Grid

It is important to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. To get a better night’s rest, experts recommend:

  • Spending at least 30 minutes technology-free before you climb into bed. 
  • Reading a book or magazine in bed instead of using an electronic device.
  • Making the bedroom a technology-free zone (i.e. no smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV, etc.).
  • Using your bed for sleep only – this habit will create a connection in your mind between your bed and sleep.
  • Putting caps over electrical outlets in the bedroom to discourage plugging in electronics to recharge.
  • If your smartphone is your alarm clock, set your phone to sleep mode (do not disturb function) so all calls and texts will be silenced unless it’s an emergency. Be sure to put your phone face down on the nightstand so incoming messages don’t wake you up.

Power down tonight and don’t let your technology keep you from a good night’s shut-eye.

Find more resources to help you get a better night’s sleep from Guard Your Health, a health education campaign by the United States Army National Guard, at

* Family Features

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