How to Reduce Sleep Lost From Electronic Devices
Technology will continue to have an increasing presence in our lives.
While they can make us more productive and connected, being constantly surrounded by our devices can also have its drawbacks.
Recent evidence has shown that the blue light emitted by many of our technological devices may disturb our sleep patterns, reducing our ability to recharge with quality sleep. This is especially the case for those using devices right before bed.
Whether you can’t help it or it’s too hard to change habits, there may be a way counteract the effect of blue light given off by your digital devices.
How you ask?
By getting a large dose of natural light.
A small study published in the journal Sleep Medicine looked at the effect that light during the day had on undergraduates when they used digital devices in the evening hours.
They took 14 undergraduates and had some of them read from paper books, while other read from tablets from 9 to 11pm in the evening.
When participants were exposed to bright light during the day, though, the researchers found that melatonin levels measured in saliva samples were the same for either group.
Both groups also reported the same amount of time needed to get to sleep, and equal levels of sleepiness when awake.
Frida Rangtell, one of the authors, sums up the results:
“Our main finding was that following daytime bright light exposure, evening use of a self-luminous tablet for two hours did not affect sleep in young healthy students.”
Is Natural Light the Answer?
Getting lots of sunlight may not be the easiest thing to do for certain groups of people. Office workers don’t always have access to natural lighting, and shift workers may have difficulty as well.
But another of the study’s authors says it’s a good option if it’s available:
“Our results could suggest that light exposure during the day, e.g. by means of outdoor activities or light interventions in offices, may help combat sleep disturbances associated with evening blue light stimulation.”
However, it may not just be blue light you have to worry about it. The researchers also caution that emotional arousal from checking emails or social media may still keep you up.
Small Study Size
Each study has its caveats, but it’s important to note the number of people in the study. Just 14.
This is an extremely small size, so the results may be positively skewed. But it’s also worth mentioning that research in this area is also still in the early stages. Hopefully follow-up studies with more people can verify both these findings and the effects of blue light itself.
But it never hurts to err on the side of caution. Changing a few bedtime rituals to get better quality sleep can never hurt. Whether it’s the blue light or emotional arousal, it’s best to turn of devices well before you lay your head down at night.
If you want to avoid the possibility of losing sleep, try and get outside and enjoy lots of natural sunlight during they day.