Alaska Sleep Education Center

How technology alters sleep quality and how to tackle it.

Posted by Dr. Angela Randazzo, Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, specializing in Sleep on Sep 22, 2020 10:26:19 AM

Tired woman asleep at work.
Going without a smartphone or a laptop is unimaginable in this digital world. In fact you’re reading this article on a digital screen right now!  

Sleep, as sweet as it used to come to us in our history class, is being compromised with constant exposure to screens. 

Recently, there’s been a surge in poor sleeping habits among people due to misuse of technology. Checking social media, streaming online content or playing a game causes a major impact on our sleep cycle. Each night, we lose about 45 minutes of sleep due to our habitual scrolling or checking messages that in turn causes sleep debt.

How does technology alter our sleep quality?

Switching between our smartphones to laptops and e-readers, we find ourselves overwhelmed with the online content for us to consume.

It seems like everyone is consistently creating something where it's difficult to keep pace with on-going trends. 

With the fear of missing out on social media platforms, world news or new Netflix originals, we tend to browse the world even late at night as we fall asleep. 

Here are the main effects of technology use at night:

Suppression of sleep-inducing hormone melatoninThe sleep-inducing hormone melatonin is one of the significant players in encouraging sleepiness when it's the right time. Without melatonin production, your body wouldn’t respond with natural changes - hence won’t sleep or wake at its natural schedules. 

Exposure to blue light rays:  Digital devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones emit blue light rays. These are short energy rays that can penetrate the retina and increase the risk of various severe eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataract. Apart from extreme consequences, blue light rays might also lead to multiple sets of eye problems like eye-strain, blurry vision, redness, itchiness, burning sensation, headache and more. 

Keeps your brain alert:  Tech use at night acts like strong coffee that keeps you alert and awake. Your mind becomes active and you start browsing the internet or doing any activity, rather than focusing on getting some sleep. Technology successfully tricks your mind into manipulating it to read an email or Facebook post at 2 am and making it hard to relax and unwind. 

How to improve your sleep?

Use blue light glasses: Blue light glasses counter the negative impacts of blue light rays. These glasses efficiently help to get proper sleep, eliminate eye problems and stay active throughout the day. You can use these not just at night to help sleep better, but also during the day for preventing visual discomfort and sleep-children-blue-light-technology-bedtime_adapt_1900_1fatigue. You will find blue light glasses in the UK at a great price in both prescription & non-prescription frames. 

Switch off notifications & alerts: We know the urge of checking the screen after the sweet beep sound, but wherever possible, put them on silent. At night, you must only listen to the mind that helps to calm down and relax while preparing yourself to fall asleep. Start slow and then work your way around to a greater time limit. For example, start checking the notification after every 15 minutes, then gradually upgrading that to 30 minutes and so on. Inform your friends that you may not respond immediately.

Stay 1-hour tech-free before bedtime: Guess what, we are all still kids. We have to learn to keep our smartphone a few meters away from our reach for an hour or place it in another room. The temptation will arise but do not waver! Remember, it is for your best interest as quality sleep leads to improved brain functioning, happiness and better well-being.

Switch(back) to books, rather than e-readers: Remember, we are on a journey of digital detoxification which requires minimal use of digital devices. Since most of us have a habit of reading books so opting for physical books rather than e-readers is a smart move. 

If you want to look for men's glasses or women's glasses online with anti-reflection lenses, you can explore Specscart. It offers a variety of designer glasses which come with free anti-glare, anti-scratch and anti-UV coatings. You can also opt for anti-blue glasses to protect yourself from blue rays. 

Keeping a Sleep Journal

It is important to not ignore any sleep quality issues. Before meeting with your physician, start keeping track of any changes through a sleep journal. Tracking your sleep patterns and routines at bedtime will be a big asset to start expert help. Download our free sleep journal here.

If you have never kept a sleep journal, start simple:

  • Wake up and bedtime
  • The last time and meal you last ate
  • The season and room temperature
  • How tired you were at work
  • The last drink you took (water, caffeine)
  • Any medications you took
  • Time of day and amount of exercise during the day

If you live in Alaska and want to see if a sleep study is right for you, contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic by clicking the link below for a free 10-minute phone call with a sleep educator who can help determine if a sleep study is necessary or if a consultation with our sleep specialist needs to be scheduled.

 Download Self Referral Form

Topics: blue light screen, poor sleep, lifetyle

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