Smartphones. They’re our constant companion – we can’t leave home without them, calls, messages, emails and social media are a tap away 24/7, and for many of us, they are the first and last thing we pay attention to morning and night.
Staying “connected” has become so natural to human behavior that smartphones are now as good as an extension of our bodies – for many of us, the mere idea of disconnecting is unthinkable. However, there is one time of the day where giving ourselves a break from our screens is really beneficial – bedtime.
Here are the key reasons why smartphones can hamper sleep, and tips to help switch off for a healthier night’s rest.
4 reasons you should avoid using your smartphone at bedtime
- Takes you longer to fall asleep
Smartphones can bombard you with information that stimulates your brain, meaning you’re more alert when your body needs to wind down.
- Damages your vision
Looking at a bright screen, especially in the dark, strains your eyes and can cause long-term damage to your eyesight.
- Suppresses melatonin release
The blue light given off by electronic devices suppresses the release of melatonin – the hormone responsible for making you sleepy, making it more difficult to drift off and stay asleep.
- Disrupts your body clock
Your circadian rhythm (or sleep/wake cycle), is your body’s internal clock that determines when you feel sleepy, and when you feel alert. The cycle is closely tied to daytime and nighttime, so using your device can mimic daylight and disrupt the body’s natural sleepy state when used at nighttime.
5 tips to 'switch off' at bedtime
- Keep your phone away, literally
Charge your phone in another room or keep it at least a meter away from you when you sleep.
- Use a real alarm clock
Instead of your phone, try using a real alarm clock to help you avoid the urge to check your phone through the night.
- Log off way before bedtime
“Time for bed - disconnect!”, says Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Internal Medicine Staff Associate, Iyaad Hasan, CNP, DNP. “Stop looking at your devices at least 30-60 minutes before you sleep. This will help your mind to unwind and relax before bed. “
- Read a book
Instead of watching videos or scrolling through social media on your phone, try reading a book by lamplight. This can help streamline your thoughts and relax more easily.
- Turn off the lights
A dark environment encourages a better night’s sleep, so it’s a good idea to switch off all light sources at bedtime. If you do use your phone in the night, try adding a blue light filter to your screen to reduce glare.