It happens all too often when you’re lying in bed ready to catch some Zzzs, when temptation gets the better of you. Next thing you know, you’re aimlessly scrolling through social feeds, reading some emails that have just landed or browsing the “new in” collection on your favourite online shopping site.
Have you ever wondered why you’re not getting a good night’s sleep? It could all be down to using your mobile phone or tablet shortly before bed. In fact, studies have found that using these gadgets even two hours before you head to bed, causes sleeping problems which in turn, can have a negative impact on your overall health and lifestyle.
Read on to discover exactly how mobile and other technology use can affect your sleep and why you should consider nipping this unhealthy habit in the bud.
Your body’s melatonin production is reduced
The hormone, melatonin, is extremely important when it comes to getting a well-rested night of sleep. It helps to control the sleep-wake cycle, scientifically known as the circadian rhythm. If your body doesn’t produce enough melatonin, you’ll find it hard to get to sleep and when you do so, you’re likely to suffer from a restless night of tossing and turning.
Our mobile phones, tablets and TVs are a major contributing factor to how much melatonin is produced. The blue light that these gadgets emit from their screens prevent your body from producing the hormone and tricks your brain into thinking you should be staying awake.
They make it difficult to shut off for the day
We’ve all had those nights where you’re staring at the ceiling, listing the various tasks on your to-do list for the following day. It can be difficult to switch off and get those much-needed 8 hours of solid sleep when you have a busy schedule ahead, however gadgets can make it even harder to slip into slumber.
Knowing that your emails and reminders are within arms reach can distract your mind away from what it really needs. The idea of sleep is lost even further, if you’re to discover something exciting or upsetting when looking at your mobile before bed, as your mind is distracted by something else.
Not only that, research has found that having a mobile in your room can stop you from sleeping, even when it’s switched off. The mere thought of your mobile or other technology devices being readily available can have dire effects on your sleeping pattern.
The impact on your sleep cycle
A good night’s sleep consists of a solid 8 hours of rest, without the need to wake up. Mobile use before bed can cause your body to feel restless throughout the night, which in turn can affect the full sleeping cycle.
When you sleep, your body goes through three different phases – light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. Each phase usually lasts between 1-1.5 hours and the cycle can be repeated multiples times in one sleep.
Each sleep phase has its own responsibility towards your body and your performance. Whilst the light sleep phase lowers your temperature and breathing in preparation for a deep sleep, this next phase helps your body to grow and repair, as well as stabilising your stress hormones for the day ahead. The final stage, REM sleep, allows you to process information and perform at your best during the day and without it, you’ll lack the energy to do so.
Restrict your mobile use for a better night’s sleep
By limiting the amount you are using your mobile device before bed, you could begin to reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep. Not only will you feel much more rested and ready to tackle the day ahead, you’ll also perform much better and feel a lot happier in yourself.
Aim to stop using your mobile phone, laptop or TV around an hour before you go to bed. Instead, why not take a bath or read a book, to relax your mind and body and prepare you for the night ahead. Keep your tech devices out of your bedroom so that you aren’t tempted to have a quick peek at your notifications.
You might find that, over time, you can extend the amount of time you go without your mobile before you hit the hay. If you can adopt this new routine, you’ll find yourself naturally adapting to this new habit and really begin to enjoy a good 8 hours of much-needed sleep.