The quality of my sleep has drastically declined over the years, as well as the amount I get each night. On a rare great night, I might get six hours of sleep. If it’s the weekend, I may get eight. But an average night of sleep is five hours or less. Sometimes much less.
It’s a safe bet to assume the seemingly harmless smartphone in my pocket or tablet in my bag play a major part in this. Oh, and that incessantly buzzing smartwatch that rattles off the table every night … it plays a part, too.
Countless studies have shown and proven the effects of technology on sleep, though, so this should come as no surprise. The artificial light emitted from smartphone, tablet, television, or computer screens fools the brain into thinking its still daylight and inhibits the process known as dim-light melatonin onset (DLMO) – or the release of the sleep-inducing chemical, melatonin, into the brain.
A recent study performed by Michigan State University business researcher Russell Johnson found that, unsurprisingly, smartphones are one of the biggest culprits in disrupting sleep and hindering performance during the following day. Johnson explains that smartphones “keep us mentally engaged late into the evening, they make it hard to detach from work so we can relax and fall asleep.” Worse, they’re typically by our beside while we try to sleep, while the television, computers, and tablets are typically much further away. But it also has a lot to do with the tone of the display. Smartphone displays are notoriously blue.
A Harvard Health publication details why blue light, specifically, is so detrimental to sleep. In an experiment, it was found that blue light, when compared to green light of comparable brightness, “suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).”
I typically set my display brightness to the lowest setting once the sun goes down. That said, the only sure shot way to know your brain and, thus, your circadian rhythm isn’t being thrown off-kilter is to curb usage of technology at a certain time and stick to it.
The question is: around what time do you typically curb your usage?
For me, it’s typically when I finish work. Sometime’s I’ll hang around the Internet for a while, but I spend so much time writing about technology and using it throughout the day, I need a mental break. So I walk away from my computer and try not to open it anymore. Of course, I continue to use my smartphone throughout the evening, but I do so sparingly with the brightness turned down as low as possible. And I have Do Not Disturb and Motorola Assist’s Sleeping mode set to activate at 11:00 PM so I “forget” about my phone and ignore incoming messages.
What about you, ladies and gents? When do you put away your technology for the night? If you miss your technology curfew, do you notice the next day?