Why You Shouldn’t Use Electronics Before Going To Sleep

Photo By: RelaxingMusic (Flickr)

Every couple of weeks I hang out with a group of my friends and we talk about everything going on in our lives from what we eat for breakfast to how we slept the night before. One of my friends has been struggling lately with exhaustion from sleeping difficulties. She never seems to get enough sleep. Sound familiar to anyone else? After quizzing her about her sleep schedule, it was obvious why; she wasn’t going to bed until three or four in the morning! I flat-out told her, “Go to bed earlier”. It seemed like a no-brainer to me. She explained to me that it didn’t matter if she tried to go to bed three hours or one hour earlier; she simply could not shut off her brain and fall asleep. After talking more, I learned that she spent her hours at night looking at Pinterest, Facebook, and editing pictures. Who can’t relate to that? In fact I am writing this post when I should probably be sleeping instead! The problem with using electronics before sleep, is it can throw off your bedtime routine and make falling asleep extremely difficult.

Time Flies When you are Having Fun

It might be me but when I crawl into bed, minutes before I should be asleep, I reach for my phone to take a quick look at Facebook. Unfortunately that “quick look” turns into 30 minutes or longer of me looking at pictures, reading articles, and watching videos. Those 30 minutes seem to fly by without me realizing it and my much-needed eight-hours of sleep is cut into. Having a bedtime routine is not just for babies and children, as adults need some type of routine too. Using electronics before sleep can be distracting and waste precious sleeping time. The experts say to keep away from your IPad and Smartphones before bed and try yoga, stretching, breathing exercises or reading something light instead. Doing the same nightly routine before bed every night will help with sleeping difficulties.

Understanding Melatonin

Electronics are great distractions and time consumers, but they also physically affect your brain. Recent studies have found exposure to artificial light from electronics disrupts sleep pattern. This disruption is believed to be caused by a decrease in a chemical in the brain called melatonin. Melatonin is a chemical produced to help you sleep. Simply put, looking at computer screens tricks the brain into thinking that it is still daytime. When you shut off the screen and try to go to sleep, your brain has to catch up and produce the melatonin to help you fall asleep. To prepare your body for bed, don’t look at electronics for at least a half-hour before bed and keep the light dimmed so it isn’t so bright.

Can’t Turn off Your Brain

My friend told me the major reason she didn’t go to bed earlier was because she couldn’t turn off her brain and would lay in bed for hours tossing and turning. I have experienced this insomnia several times before and it was always incredibly frustrating. For a few weeks it was so bad that I remember saying to myself, “I don’t know how to sleep anymore!” Whenever I get in a sleeping rut, I re-evaluate what I am doing before bed. I quickly learned that when I got my brain fired up, it was almost impossible to shut off. I never look at Pinterest before bed or spend the next two hours going over the projects I want to do. It goes the same with any life stressors, I leave it for the morning. The National Sleep Foundation did a survey and found 95% of the 1,508 people surveyed used some form of electronics before bed. Sixty-three percent said they were not getting as much sleep as they needed during the week. The artificial light and electronic distractions, make our brains work too hard before bed and leads to sleeping difficulties.

Electronics are a big part of today’s society and with so many out there it is a good idea to give yourself an electronic curfew. Make a goal to turn off your electronics at least 30 minutes before bed and let your brain rest. I am always pleasantly surprised at how much better I sleep when I haven’t been scouring the web. The light is not only tricking chemicals in your brain, but it is hard on your eyes. Do your eyes and brain a favor and turn off the electronics before sleep!

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Jennifer McBride loves to write, and enjoy the outdoors in Colorado. Jennifer loves to write, hike, and generally be a weekend warrior. You can find out more about Jennifer McBride on her Google+ page.