Unplug Before You Tuck In

How your smartphone can affect your sleep

(RxWiki News) Americans may be getting less sleep than they have in previous years, and it might be because of smartphones.

Lack of sleep isn't just linked to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It's also tied to poor academic performance among children, as well as motor vehicle crashes.

Recommended Sleep Times

The recommended amount of sleep to get each night varies with age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following number of hours of sleep each night:

  • Those between the ages of 6 and 13 should regularly sleep nine to 11 hours.
  • Teenagers should sleep eight to 10 hours.
  • Adults need at least seven hours (seven to nine hours).

What Does Your Phone Have to Do with It?

Nowadays, people use their smartphones as their alarm clocks. So, keeping your phone on your nightstand and within arm's reach makes sense. This may not seem like a big deal, but your smartphone can affect your sleep in more ways than one:

  1. Smartphones, tablets and computers all emit a blue light. This blue light is stimulating and can keep you up. It reduces the amount of melatonin released in your brain, according to Harvard Medical School researchers. In fact, an experiment conducted by Harvard researchers and their colleagues looked at the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light compared to exposure to green light. They found the blue light suppressed the release of melatonin for about twice as long as the green light did. Furthermore, the blue light affected circadian rhythms about twice as much.
  2. Surfing the Web, checking emails, and using social media can affect your mood and, as a result, your sleep.
  3. Having your phone so close means your sleep can be disturbed that much more easily by noisy notifications like texts and emails.

What You Can Do Tonight

Create a comfortable sleeping environment to improve your sleep. This may mean turning down the temperature, turning off the TV and making the room dark. The bedroom should be reserved for sleep.

This means you should unplug before tucking in. Stop using electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Better yet, avoid bringing computers, iPads, TVs or work into the bedroom.

Furthermore, avoid looking at bright screens two to three hours before bed. And opt for dim red lights for night lights.

If you need to use electronic devices at night or work a night shift, consider using blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green light wavelength.

For your kids, implement a media curfew. Although this is important for kids, a media curfew can be beneficial for all age groups.

For more information, check out "Ways to Improve Sleep." Ask your health care provider any questions you have about good sleep hygiene.

Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS