Why Time Spent on Your Phone Can be Disastrous for Your Sleep Patterns

By guest blogger: Sarah Johnson – sjohnson@tuck.com 

Dec2018_tucksleeplogoWorking night shifts or staying up late can be a nightmare for your internal clock, but there’s something else that might make your hopes of getting rest even worse — the iPhone or Android you use to pass the evening when there’s nothing else to do.

The light shining on you from your smartphone is hitting you with blue-ish lighting that research has since revealed can have devastating effects on your ability to sleep normally. It’s unfortunate that long-lasting, environment-friendly lighting has such a serious downside, ranging from sleep problems to potential health risks.

Read on to learn about the negative consequences of staying on your phone late at night.

Blue Light Is Great For Everything but Your Sleep Patterns

cell phone in bed.jpgBlue lighting’s reputation was exclusively linked to how great it is for energy savings. For example, residential LED lights burn approximately 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent lights. It’s even estimated that by 2027, this type of lighting will save Americans more than $30 billion.

The shift in emphasis on energy and cost savings means blue lighting is a growing part of the average person’s life in one way or another. The most common exposure these days is through the TV, laptop, and smartphone. It means you get daily exposure to a light source that research shows interferes with your circadian rhythm, that is, your daily wake and sleep cycle. Studies show that it increases your alertness and suppresses the hormone melatonin. This makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.

Phone Lighting and the Night Shift Disturbing Your Sleep

Interestingly, the ability of blue light exposure to increase alertness might have short-term benefits on the job, if you’re working late at night. This might help you avoid the feelings of tiredness that come with the job. Even so, the long-term consequences could be severe. There are already studies that show night shift work can have a negative impact on overall sleep patterns. Combined with prolonged exposure to certain electronics, things could get worse.

What You Can Do to Sleep Better

There are steps you can take to improve your overall quality of sleep as best you can. When working the night shift or staying up late, consider reading a book rather than hopping on your phone. If you do decide (or need) to get on the phone, consider using blue-light-blocking glasses. The less you expose yourself to blue light, the less you have to worry about it interfering with your body and health. At home, swap blue LED lights for traditional red light bulbs in the bedroom. It’s also a good idea to cut back on use of your laptop or phone a few hours before bedtime. Lastly, practice good sleep hygiene. These are daily habits and behaviors that make it easier for you to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Getting to bed at a good hour, turning off electronics, and avoiding nighttime distractions are all examples of helpful ways of practicing good sleep hygiene.

Sleep doesn’t always come easy or naturally to night shift workers. If you happen to work late, it’s only natural to avoid zoning out or outright sleeping on the job. However, continuously sitting on your smartphone is not the best way to go about staying awake, and the potential risks just aren’t worth it.

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