Having Trouble Sleeping at Night? The ONE Habit You Need To Break
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, then I have a question for you.
Would you say you’re someone that just has to have another last look at your emails or Facebook before you turn the lights off and go to bed?
Is the temptation to have one last look once the lights have been turned out just too much?
The addictive nature of our smart phones is a topic for another day, but the impact of this obsession before bed is something I am going to cover today.
Blue Light from your phone IS WHY YOU’re Having Trouble Sleeping at Night
But what is blue light you may be asking?!
Blue light is the type of light emitted by many of our personal electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops, ipads and tablets. It’s called ‘blue light’ because the light emitted is ‘short wave enriched’, meaning it has a higher concentration of blue light when compared to natural light.
And unfortunately it’s this blue light that is negatively affecting your health.
More specifically the blue light from mobile phones and computers affects the levels of the hormone melatonin, and therefore ends up affecting your sleep patterns.
Melatonin and your circadian rhythm
Blue light actually tricks your brains into thinking its daytime. Unfortunately when you check your phone before bed, or stay up late to finish off emails, it can disrupt the brains natural sleep-wake cycles, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm.
What you may be surprised to know is that during the day the blue light from your devices can actually be a good thing, helping to boost attention and focus…. but after hours be warned.
Once upon a time we lived in a world where once the sun went down, that was it, there was no more light. But now we function in a world where light is available 24/7, and it’s seriously impacting our health.
The impact of blue light before bed on your sleep
My own personal experiences with blue light from my laptop created very poor sleep.
In fact it used to take me AGES to fall asleep if I had been on the computer skyping friends and family before I went to bed (I’m originally from England so the time difference with Australia makes life fun!). It impacted my sleep, and it impacted my energy levels the next day too. It wasn’t until I understood the link, and became strict about when I arranged to Skype that my sleep patterns returned to normal.
But it’s not just your sleep quality that is affected.
In a study by Harvard Medical School, disruption to your circadian rhythm can affect your blood sugar and even your levels of leptin, the hormone which is responsible for you feeling full after eating a meal. There are also countless knock on effects, for example poor sleep has been linked to a weaker immune system, and that’s the tip of the iceburg!
The steps you can tack to take to improve your sleep
Blue light before bed is clearly not a great idea, so the number one thing that you can do to improve your sleep is to break the habit of checking your phone or computer before bedtime.
Facebook and emails can all wait until the morning (trust me they can!), and without sounding like too much of a killjoy your sleep and your health should be upped on the priority list.
As a general rule you want to aim to avoid using your computer/laptop 2-3 hours before bed to give your body time to adjust.
If that’s not possible, aim for at least an hour before bed. You can also consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue wavelength at night if working late is unavoidable.
Personally in my own life, this has made a HUGE difference and I would absolutely recommend cutting back before you go to bed.