• Is Using Your Phone at Night Interfering With Your Sleep?

    on Feb 22nd, 2018

As Americans become more addicted to their cellphones, the book on the nightstand table has given way to the charger and phone in an ever-increasing number of households. If you’re one of the many people who crawl into bed and snuggle up with their phone for a little last-minute work or cruise through social media, the effects on your sleep may run deeper than you realize.

While we’re probably confirming something you already suspect, here’s how phone use before bed can affect your sleep.

See the light

When it comes to sleep, your circadian rhythms reign supreme. This 24-hour, internal clock is controlled by your hypothalamus, which directs your body in your sleep/wake cycle. Your circadian rhythm controls your physical, mental, and behavioral changes throughout the day, dictating when you’re alert, when you’re tired, and when you should sleep.

To do this, your hypothalamus receives messages from different parts of your body and releases hormones accordingly. And much of this is related to light. When it’s dark, your optic nerve sends a message to your hypothalamus, which responds by producing more melatonin, which makes you drowsy.

So, once the sun has set and you’re winding down for the evening, shutting off the lights, your body starts to produce melatonin in earnest, preparing you for sleep. Then you fire up your phone and stare straight into the light. Your optic nerve relays this information to your hypothalamus, which responds by decreasing your melatonin.

In the blue

While it’s bad enough that you throw your circadian rhythm off with light from your phone, medical researchers have discovered that blue light does an especially good job at suppressing your melatonin, because your body is more sensitive to this color wavelength than any other. And guess what? Your smart phone emits primarily blue light.

Outside the science

We’re going to leave the world of circadian rhythms and hormones for our final point. Let’s face it, your phone is a rabbit hole of distraction that can keep you up for hours.

Whether you’re drooling over your friend’s latest pictures from Aspen, or you’re checking out what the childhood star of your youth looks like now, your phone is a portal into an entire world that’s designed to keep you diving in deeper and deeper. And you’re probably no stronger than the rest of us when it comes to clickbait. A goat in pajamas practically requires that you investigate how other animals look in sleepwear.

Before you know it, an hour or more has gone by, and you’re wide awake, hungry for more.

To boot, many people sleep with their phones within arm’s distance, so the moment your friend on the opposite coast texts you, you wake from sleep at 4 a.m. These disruptions add up and wreak havoc on your sleep.

Getting back into science for a moment, the simple fact is that you need your sleep. Your body uses this time to regenerate and repair your cells, organize the information in your brain, and slow your heart rate. It’s your job to give your body the time it needs to accomplish these, and many other, tasks.

So, unless you’re reading this article before you go to sleep, we urge you to leave your phone in another room when it comes time to slumber.

If you’re still experiencing problems sleeping after putting the phone away, please call us or book an appointment using our scheduling tool on this website.

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