The Jakarta Post
Checking your phone right before bed might expose you to the threat of a sleeping disorder. (Shutterstock/Gap_Abstracture)
Do you have the habit of checking your phone before going to bed?
You might want to ease up on this routine as it has been shown to harm your chances of better sleep. Lack of quality sleep can lead to health problems and even shorten your life.
Sleep disorder specialist Harneet Walia has advised against the habit, as reported by clevelandclinic.org. She said that there were at least three reasons why it could interfere with our much needed peace of mind which is important for a good night’s sleep.
1. Phones do not let your mind relax
Smartphones are designed to feed you information. Even if you are comfortable under the blanket, your brain will keep racing to absorb information and your emotions will be stimulated by the content you see online.
“Checking your phone stimulates the brain so you are more active and awake,” Walia said. “Even just a quick check can engage your brain and keep you awake.”
Smart phones and online applications are designed to keep us connected and elicit immediate responses.
You may postpone putting your phone away and closing your eyes because you see something interesting. Perhaps you’ll be intrigued and want to write a witty comment.
2. Blue light from the screen suppresses melatonin
The blue light from your smartphone screen is physically harmful for both your eyes and your brain. Walia said that researchers found a correlation between suppressed levels of melatonin and exposure to blue light.
Melatonin is a hormone that controls the cycle of sleep and wakefulness. When your body does not produce enough melatonin, you experience insomnia, tiredness and irritability.
Walia said that the blue light emitted from smartphone screens is designed to mimic daylight, which might confuse your body clock. It may, as a result, confuse your internal sleeping and waking cycle.
3. Emotional content disrupts REM sleep
Scrolling through social media will expose you to various kinds of emotions, ones that you might not be ready to handle.
Walia said that emotions, whether ignited by happy videos of puppies wagging their tails or by upsetting stories about world events, might trigger responses that will delay your sleep.
Emotions, thoughts and anxiety may creep into your mind and distract you from your much-needed sleep.
To reduce the ill effects of smartphones, Walia recommended cutting off exposure to screens one hour before bed. Her recommendation is not limited to smartphones but also includes television and tablets.
She strongly advised against keeping your phone underneath your pillow or within arm’s reach. Walia suggested putting it in a different room and opting instead for a clock radio if you need an alarm to wake you up in the morning.
If that is not possible, you can at least turn off your notifications before going to sleep to minimize distractions and help you snooze faster. (gis/wng)