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Suppose your memory goes back far enough to the “before times” of the early 2000s before the term “smartphone” was ever uttered.

In that case, you may remember that screens and scrolling were things relegated to a desktop PC or a laptop, contraptions not nearly as addictive or tethered to our lives like the ones we live with today.

Comparatively, our lives were far more straightforward. Of course, technology served its purpose in our lives, but for better or worse, the blissful ignorance of what was to come allowed us some reprieve.

If anything, the internet was almost purely associated with personal computers, and any blue screens we encountered were usually from the glow of your living room television.

Of course, phones have almost become another appendage of our bodies, essential to our lives like our keys, purses, and wallets are. As a result, it can interfere with productivity, time management, and mental health.

Adding to its litany of side effects is its role in our sleep hygiene. The blue, droning light of our phones can confuse our nighttime brain, throw off our circadian rhythm, and prevent us from falling asleep efficiently.

Below, we will discuss how modern technology causes us to get poor rest and what we may be able to do about the unhealthy relationship between screen time and sleep. 

Our Bodies are Confused

Exactly how does screen time affect your sleep? 

In 2011, a poll found that 40% of Americans brought their cellphones to bed and that 60% of Americans used a desktop or laptop computer within an hour of sleep.

As you may imagine, a decade later, screen time and sleep are fundamentally tethered; Apple, recognizing this phenomenon, had to add a “screen time” feature to iPhones to allow users to track their use, hopefully triggering users to manage their time better.

This matter overwhelmingly affects young adults, who were the first to immerse themselves in the smartphone explosion, and do not know a world without the “appendages” of modern technology accompanying the most mundane daily activities. 

Why is this such an issue? To put it simply, our bodies are confused by our constant screen time before bed.

The light that our smartphones, tablets, and computers emit causes our brains to jumble up the circadian rhythms; this light has an energizing, waking effect.

This alertness impedes our ability to create an “internal clock,” making our sleep habits haphazard and vulnerable to irregularities and unsatisfactory rest. 

The body operates on a pretty reliable 24-hour schedule.

Using your phone at night, however, throws this off. Absent the usual cues that allow it to wind down, it reduces the release of essential hormones like melatonin that draw the body down for a whole night of rest. 

Suppressing (And Supplementing) Melatonin

So how does this all work, and how does the use of your phone before bed factor in? When the body detects daylight, even in an artificial form like the light emitted from our devices, it produces cortisol, a hormone that increases wakefulness.

Likewise, dimming, calm lights in yellow or red hues that slowly draw closer to darkness will cause the body to release melatonin, the sleep hormone that lulls the body to sleep.

If our melatonin release is out of whack, there is a higher chance of suffering from the problem of restlessness when trying to get much-needed shut-eye. 

Our devices and fluorescent light bulbs emit what is called “blue light,” and this light is quite intense in terms of hitting our retinas and throwing off our circadian rhythm.

So much so that studies have shown that “blue” lights suppress as much as 90 minutes of melatonin production time. The bright yellow light usually found in bedrooms also has the same rousing effect on the body.

One also risks reduced time spent in the all-important REM stage of sleep, creating what is called a “sleep debt,” where the body makes up for poor sleep on days off. 

Once again, those on the younger side tend to be most susceptible to the worst effects of blue light and are more likely to have daytime drowsiness due to the late nights and latent sleep times. 

Fortunately, PureKana has a tried and true way to at least assist you in getting on the right track when it comes to modulating your melatonin levels and your sleep patterns.

Our Sleep Aid CBD Gummies contain 2mg of Melatonin alongside a 25mg dose of relaxing CBD and 5mg of the cannabinoid CBN, known to ease the mind and body in the hours before bedtime. 

The Nighttime Rituals You Should be Doing

So what are the best practices to counteract this sleep-sapping habit? First, it helps to establish at least some wind-down habits to train the body to get into a “relaxed” mindset every night at the same time.

This must start with a dedicated time in which you put the phone down, turn off Netflix, and avoid screens at all costs. Will it be easy? Not in the beginning.

Smartphone habits are hard to shake, and it will take a high level of discipline. However, most smartphones have “Do Not Disturb” features, so take advantage of those. 

Next is a dedicated bedtime. Stick to it as rigidly as the “phones down” daily deadline.

In between the screens being off and your bedtime, engage in a ritualistic activity to help you unwind.

For example, make a calming tea with chamomile and/or lavender for relaxation purposes, or take a warm bath with a bath bomb infused with lavender or CBD as an aromatherapeutic.

Either one of these is a calming way to decompress, and there is no reason you can’t do both!

With these suggestions in mind, keep in mind some other helpful tips: reading a book, meditating, or having white noise (like the sound of rain or waves) can also be very relaxing and ideal for lulling the body to sleep.  

How Small Changes Pay Off

It will be hard to shake once you have a routine in place, especially when you realize how quickly it can turn things around.

By improving your sleep hygiene and overall sleep quality, you will notice the little things that matter; better time management, less fatigue throughout the day, and a more regulated internal clock.

You will be less likely to snooze through alarms (or worse, sleep through them).

You will skim less on morning or afternoon workouts, and the days of making up for extreme sleep debt will likely be permanently retired.

In a rat race environment, these improvements to the quality of life should not be dismissed.

Our smartphones have improved our quality of life in a broad sense; communicating instantly, navigating the environment around us, and the ease of information are the gifts of modern technology.

But when the addictive factors of these technologies begin to slip into detrimental health effects, it is worth learning how to manage these addictive habits to ensure your health needs are met and prioritized. 

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5839336/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/SIAP_2011_Summary_of_Findings.pdf?x14342

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