The Impact of Being on Your Phone During Bedtime

Having trouble switching off at night? You’re not alone. Thousands of people across the UK admit to sleeping close to their phone, if not with it in their bed. According to our Sleep Wellness Survey, 45% of people are using a phone or tablet right before they try to drop off. Shockingly, as many as 13% of respondents said they were still busy working away on a device at this time – bad news given that 28.4% of those interviewed said work stress was hampering their sleep.

Used correctly, our smartphones can healthily bookend our natural sleeping patterns and help reduce sleeplessness. Yet, with a digital world lying on your bedside table, it’s often tempting to check your emails or tunnel through social media long after bedtime. This sort of unregulated smartphone usage before bedtime can cause serious issues, with many experts now blaming the growing availability of digital devices for the state of Britain’s sleepless society.

So, just how are our digital devices affecting our sleep? Bensons for Beds has the answers:

What is it about smartphones that affects our sleep?

You probably already know that light is pivotal to whether we get a good night’s sleep or not. Some children need a night light to drift off, while most adults prefer the dark. However, technological advancements in recent years have changed the landscape of how we get to sleep, introducing new sources of light into our daily lives.

Most smartphones, TVs, tablets, and laptops are illuminated by LEDs, which widely rely on bright blue light to create the images we see onscreen. Blue wavelengths of light are beneficial to us during the day because they help us maintain a sense of alertness, boosting attention, and our moods. Yet that same light source can disrupt the natural sleep rhythms of our bodies. It supresses the production of melatonin, the primary sleep hormone, keeping you stimulated and active at exactly the time you should be winding down for the night[1].

New and emerging devices are doing away with LEDs, implementing organic light sources as backlights for their screens, thus reducing the amount of blue light emitted. Yet they are still giving off a potentially disruptive amount of light which can result in insomnia, stress, and wider-reaching health effects[2]. More research is being conducted into this very area, to see if excessive device usage is directly causing an epidemic of sleeplessness, or if it is simply one factor of a much larger problem.

What’s the best way to use my devices at night?

The simple answer is to not use your smartphone at all after light’s out. Some experts recommend working an evening ban of all digital devices into your daily routine, by avoiding screen-time for up to two hours before bed.

For many, this idealistic routine simply doesn’t seem feasible. So, if you do find the urge to use your phone, laptop, or tablet during the evening is irresistible; make sure you’re utilising whatever night-time features the device offers. These will mute the harsh blue light emitted by the screen, reducing the impact on your brain’s ability to produce melatonin.

Many people recommend sleeping in a different room from your phone to avoid the temptation of scrolling through it while you should be sleeping. That may well be counterproductive however, because these incredibly expensive devices have access to expert apps proven to help you sleep.

We agree that your smartphone can radically improve your sleep if used correctly, which is why we’ve implemented USB charger ports into some of our beds. The Bergamo upholstered frame is perfect for anyone looking to start tracking their sleep through an app, or using their device as a digital swiss-army knife for improving their sleeping health.

Does that mean I need to stop watching tv at night?

The overwhelming majority of TV displays currently on the market still use a backlight of LEDs, and with Ultra HD displays becoming more common, more and more households are winding down in front of incredibly bright electronic displays. According to our Sleep Wellness Survey, 68% of the population watch sleep in the hour before they go to bed.

Again, with this already entrenched in many people’s nightly routine, it could be counterintuitive to recommend cutting out TV completely of an evening. However, it is best to avoid looking at overly bright displays for up to two hours before bed. We’ve already disproved the myth that TV helps you sleep, so do your best to switch off at night.

Bensons for Beds, helping you sleep a little easier. 

[1] https://gigaom.com/2014/09/01/what-is-the-blue-light-from-our-screens-really-doing-to-our-eyes/#comments

[2] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0165331

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