Sleep is such a vital part of our lives. It gives your body a chance to rest, recuperate and enhances your ability to remember things you’ve learned throughout the day. But what happens to your health when you skimp out on those precious Z’s?
Associations between electronic media use and sleep quality were found in a study done by Rebekah M. Lavender of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The most supportive aspect of the study was a positive correlation between electronic activity and self-reported disturbances in sleep. The use of this type of technology was also correlated with an increase in problems waking up in the morning.
According to a 2011 Sleep Study Poll, texting at night in the hours before bed at least a few times weekly resulted in poor sleep quality. Participants were less likely to get a good night’s sleep, and more likely to wake up feeling unrefreshed. Those who used their computer or laptop before bed had an increased likelihood of being categorized as “sleepy,” and more likely to drive drowsy.
Sleep deprivation can have a lasting effect on the way you handle daily activities, as well as the way you interact with others. While supplementing with coffee can help in the short term, it may not be enough to help your brain keep up long term. Chronic effects of long-term sleep deprivation include:
- Heart Attack & Stroke
- Weight Gain & Obesity
- Depression & Anxiety
- Faulty Brain Function
- Memory Loss
- Immune System Deficiency
- Decreased Fertility
- Psychiatric Disorders / Poor Mental Health
What it is about technology that actively interrupts our ability to wind down for the night? For starters, the bright lights from your computer can increase alertness. Video games, watching movies or reading on your phone can be mentally stimulating, which would impede your brain’s ability to drift off. Many people get absorbed in whatever they’re doing on their devices, and can continue using their phone, TV or computer beyond a reasonable time. These can all have a negative effect on melatonin production, which is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy at the appropriate times.
Sleep efficiency and sleep hygiene also have an impact on sleep quantity and quality. There’s multiple different stages of sleep, including rapid eye movement (or REM) sleep, deep sleep, light sleep and of course being awake. When one of these areas is impacted, you might notice a difference in how you feeling moving forward through the rest of your day. There’s different things that can cause interruptions to these cycles– some of which include ingesting caffeine or alcohol later in the day, or getting up at night to use the bathroom.
Getting a healthy amount of sleep includes listening to your body and creating an environment that facilitates a calm and peaceful environment. Consider leaving your phone on a charger away from your bed in the hours before bed, or better yet, leave your phone in another room altogether. If you have a television in your room or like to watch movies on your laptop before you fall asleep, consider wearing blue light filtering glasses or limiting how many Netflix episodes you binge on a Wednesday night.
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