Whether it is watching TV, playing video games, scrolling through social media or checking emails, electronic devices are a big part of our lifestyle and hard to put down when bedtime approaches.
Although the effects vary between people ‘screen time’ before bed has been shown to impact both our ability to fall asleep and the quality of our sleep.
How electronic devices impact our sleep
- Electronic devices emit blue light which suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.
- By keeping us engaged and stimulated they are hard to walk away from and make it difficult for our brains to relax and wind down at the end of the day.
- If next to our beds, notifications and late night’s texts from our mobile phones disturb our sleep.
Tips - How to reduce the impact of 'screen time' on our sleep
- Dim screens for evening use. Many mobile phones and devices now come with a ‘night mode’ feature that changes your screen to reduce the amount of blue light been emitted. If your device does not have this, there are apps that can be downloaded that may assist.
- Limit the amount of screen time in the evenings.
"Studies have tested the effects of bright tablets (e.g. ipads) and laptop screens for up to 5 hours before bed. It seems that the natural evening rise in melatonin (a hormone that makes us ready for sleep) is not affected by 1 hour of bright screen light, but it is after 1.5 hours. Thus after 1.5 hours of technology use in the evening people report feeling less sleepy. They also do better on mental performance tests and their brainwaves suggest increased alertness. Repeated use of a bright screen over 5 days can delay the body clock by 1.5 hours. This means you consistently want to go to bed later and sleep in longer. This can be a real problem when you need to get up at a set time in the morning for school or work." - sleephealthfoundation.org.au
- Go screen free 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
- With children, clearly setting and enforcing the rules might be hard at first but once habit will be part of your everyday routine. Include grandparents or caregivers so they know what you are doing at home. Replace screens with traditional books, puzzles and games.
- If possible, make bedrooms a screen free zone.
- If your mobile phone is in your room and used as an alarm, ensure it is in do not disturb mode so you are not woken by late night text messages or notifications.
It may be difficult at first, but once you have made a conscious change it will become habit and part of your everyday routine.
Sleep Well, Live Well