Is Your Smartphone Disrupting Your Sleep?

The constant connectivity, information, and entertainment your smartphone provides can carry a high cost to your overall health and wellness: disrupted sleep.

Screen time

How Screens Disrupt Sleep

That screen you’re staring at for more hours than you care to admit emits mostly blue light. More than just an ambient glow, blue light mimics natural light.  That’s one reason it can disrupt production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep by making you feel sleepy.

And it’s not just the light keeping you up. Constantly scrolling through endless articles, posts, likes, and comments can also keep you alert.  “The light is stimulating,” says OurHealth medical director Dr. Terry Layman. “But the content is stimulating, too.”

To transition from wakefulness to sleep, the National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding screen time for at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

Why Sleep Matters

Sleep is important to your  health. Studies have shown that getting plenty of sleep helps regulate healthy brain function (including decision-making, focus, and learning), emotional well-being (mood regulation and motivation), and the hormones that regulate hunger.  Your body heals more quickly with proper sleep. And sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and stroke.

So how much sleep is healthy? “Shoot for at least seven hours with two or fewer awakenings in the night,” Layman says. The Mayo Clinic suggests adults sleep at least seven hours every night and avoid sleeping for more than eight hours.

Sleep Habits for Highly Effective Adults

Develop these habits for more restful sleep:

  • Limit screen time for at least 30 minutes before bed.
  • Attempt a regular bedtime every night. This helps reinforce your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, helping you fall asleep more easily and providing more restful sleep.
  • Don’t feel tired? Build the habit of lying down for at least 20 minutes at the time you’d like to start sleeping. If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes, do something relaxing like reading and then return to your bed for another 20 minutes, repeating this until you’re able to sleep.
  • Avoid the “blues.” If screen time is a must, some device makers such as Apple offer display settings that limit the amount blue light emitted. For other devices, apps such as Twilight allow you to configure the screen’s color range.
  • Make your bedroom an ideal sleep environment: cool, dark, and quiet. Using a sleep mask or room-darkening blinds to limit light. Ambient noise from a white-noise machine or a fan can help minimize sleep-disruptive noises.
  • Be cautious of over-reliance on naps if you’re trying to catch up on sleep. “Napping is fine as long it doesn’t keep you awake at night,” Layman says. “A 20-minute nap isn’t going to be restorative like a good night’s rest, but it can help you get through the day.

If you’re an OurHealth member with questions about improving sleep, connect with an OurHealth provider or health coach. Schedule an appointment today when you visit the OurHealth Portal or call Member Relations at 866-434-3255.