Monday, January 23, 2017

Bedtime Device Time, How Your Electronic Devices Are Slowly Hurting You



The problem is we love our devices.  We feel connected to the entire world all the time.  Everything is right there at our fingertips and on our screens, always surfing and posting and commenting and reading.  And we can't put them down.  That's the problem when it comes to interrupted sleep.  If you've been waking up unrested and in a semi-catatonic state lately, there may be a reason for that.  We take our devices to bed with us and surf until we put out the light.  The eyes close but the brain still runs.  

Many sleep experts are now saying it's very important to disengage from our devices at least an hour before bed time.  I already know what you're thinking.  You're thinking that's just not possible.  There's always one last check of social media or even simply catching up with an e-book.
Let's take a look at a study published in 2014 in  the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

The study followed two groups of 12 participants; one group read with an iPad for four hours before bed each night for five consecutive nights. The second group read printed books in dim light, and after a week the groups switched. The iPad group showed lower levels of melatonin, a hormone linked to sleepiness. They also experienced shorter restorative REM cycles, delayed circadian rhythms, and felt sleepier the next morning despite getting eight hours of sleep. The blue light from many devices, not just the iPad, can have a negative effect on our melatonin levels because this type of light tells our body to stay awake and alert. In short, it tricks your brain into thinking it's still day time.  

Bear in mind, this is not a psychological phenomena.  This has very profound effects on biology.  The effect isn't unique to iPads, by the way.  Other products produce similar blue-light emissions, including tablets, e-readers, smart phones, laptops and LED monitors.
When you cozy up to your electronic device before bed your body is not getting the proper recuperative effect of sleep.  Chronic suppression of melatonin has been linked to increased risk of prostate, colorectal and breast cancers. And a persistent lack of sleep has been associated with obesity and diabetes. 

Now think on this; your children are even more hooked on these devices than you are.  If you feel blown out during your work day imagine how this affects their school day.  Not good.  Nearly 90 percent of adults and 75 percent of children reported having at least one electronic device in their bedrooms, and many reporting having multiple devices, such as televisions, laptops and tablets.
From the Washington post; The sleep-disrupting effects of such devices might be even more significant for older teens, ages 15 to 17, almost all of whom reported having electronic devices in their bedrooms and were far more likely to use them at night than younger children, even when an early school morning loomed.

The solution is to turn yourself away from these devices at least an hour before bed.  If that seems like a lot them start with a half hour.  Work your way up to an hour.  Seriously, read a book.  A Real book in soft light to tell your brain it's almost bed time.  

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