Mélina Lamarche

By Mélina Lamarche

May 2, 2016

Health

Too Wired to Sleep?

Article revised on 29 November 2018

According to new studies, the repetitive and habitual use of our electronic devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.) appears to negatively impact our sleep. Will you be able to change your habits in order to get a better sleep quality?

One reason for this is that the blue wavelength light from LED-based devices stimulates the production of cortisol in the brain. This hormone makes us more alert and inhibits the secretion of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

The use of our devices also contributes to maintaining a certain anxiety. The more we are used to staying connected and always being in the loop, the more we find ourselves checking for messages. If we don’t, we feel a certain anxiety. We have a tough time falling asleep if we keep one eye on our smartphone.

To fall asleep more easily, it’s best to turn off the technological gadgets and turning the following tips into habits.

Turn off and tune out! Practice not checking for messages as often and not reacting as soon as you receive a message notification. If possible, mute or deactivate notifications.

Wait longer and longer. Start by checking your messages every 15 minutes. Then, every 30 to 60 minutes. Let your contacts know you will not constantly check your messages.

1 hour before bed… Power down all your electronic devices.

Not in the bedroom! Keep the gadgets in another room, so you don’t give in and check for messages before going to sleep or during the night.

In case of emergency… If you keep a phone in your room so you don’t miss an urgent call, use the settings that allow you to screen calls and limit disturbances.

Turn down the lights! An hour before you hit the sack, dim the room lights to promote the production of melatonin by the brain.

Relax your brain. During the last hour before bedtime, choose activities that your brain will find predictable and not stressful: read a book by a familiar author (not on your tablet!), listen to a CD of relaxing music, watch a TV show you enjoy…

Restful, restorative sleep!

During sleep, your brain recovers from information overload and performs some biochemical housekeeping. During the four phases of sleep, each of which ends in a dream, the brain reinforces needed mental connections and prunes away unneeded ones. It also washes away various byproducts of thinking while you sleep. The less rest you have, the less time your brain has to make a clean sweep. So, there you have it: another good reason why you should not neglect your sleep!

Source: Harvard Business Review

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