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The Role of Technology in Regulating Our Sleep-Wake Cycle

26 May 2023

Do you ever feel like your sleep-wake cycle has been taken over by technology? With the bright light of screens and notifications, it's no wonder that our natural circadian rhythm is thrown off balance.

Most people cannot imagine going to bed without their beloved devices such as a cell phone, laptop, tablet, or a tv giving them company. Although technology provides us with entertainment and comfort, it can majorly disrupt our sleep-wake cycle. The light emitted from these devices tricks our brains into staying awake and disrupts the secretion of melatonin, our sleep hormone.

Additionally, nearly all of us are guilty of getting so intrigued by our devices that we continue to use them for hours past bedtime. With modern technology, our phones act more like an extension of us, and we hardly think about how long we have used them.



Understanding Blue Light

Our devices usually have a bright screen with a bluish tint. This type of light, known as blue light, is emitted from digital screens, fluorescent, and LED lighting. The wavelength of blue light falls between 380 to 500 nanometers on the visible light spectrum.

Blue light is the main culprit for disrupting our natural circadian rhythm. It is a special type of light with very high energy output and is also emitted from the screens of our devices.

How Blue Light Impacts Our Sleep

Our bodies are programmed to respond to light and dark cycles. The blue light emitted from our digital screens signals to our brains that it's time for us to be awake and alert. This is because our brains interpret this type of light as daylight, so when we are exposed to it in the evening hours, it can disrupt our sleep patterns.

Blue light also suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Studies have shown that exposure to blue light in the evening can cause sleep disturbances such as difficulty falling asleep, lighter sleep quality, shorter duration of deep sleep stages, increased waking after falling asleep, and general fatigue throughout the day.

The Impact of Blue Light on Eye Health

Excessive and prolonged exposure to blue light can also have a negative impact on our eye health. The high energy emitted from the screens of our devices can cause digital eyestrain, characterized by symptoms such as dry eyes, eye fatigue, and headaches. It can also increase the risk of macular degeneration, an age-related condition affecting the central part of your vision.



Increased Alertness

As you begin to unwind at the end of a long day, your brain understands it is time to enter sleep mode. A good bedtime routine helps your brain understand that it is time to start resting. For instance, if you shower before bed or change into sleepwear daily, your brain will understand that snooze time is approaching.

However, when you use technology like smartphones and tablets in the evening, your brain is tricked into thinking it is daytime. Since our bodies cannot differentiate between natural daylight and artificial light sources, your brain kicks into high gear and increases awareness and alertness to prepare for the day ahead. Any attempts to sleep will be delayed, making it harder to get a good night's rest.

The light impacts sleep and the content we view on our devices can also increase alertness. Whether scrolling through social media, browsing the web, or playing games, your brain is stimulated and becomes more active. This makes it even more difficult for us to relax and prepare for bedtime.



Addiction

We are all guilty of using technological devices beyond our planned sleeping time. It does not take long for 'one more post' to turn into an hour-long social media browsing session. Similarly, 'one more text' can turn into a late-night chat session before we realize it is already 3 AM.

Remember that 'one more minute' with technology is never a minute long. It is just the beginning of an hour or a few hours of technology. It is important to recognize that technology can be addictive, and it is easy for us to fall into the habit of using our devices late at night.



The Mini-Alarms

For many of us, our phones act as mini-alarms that wake us up randomly throughout the night because of receiving notifications or messages. Although most of us want to check these notifications, they can be highly disruptive to our sleep cycle.

Sometimes, we don't even remember checking our devices, but mindlessly picking up your phone to check what is happening around us can signal to our brains that it is time to wake up.



Overcoming The Negative Impacts of Technology

It can be challenging to break old habits, but there are steps that you can take to reduce the negative impacts of technology on your sleep. Here are a few steps you can take to minimize the impact of technology on your sleep.

Build a Bedtime Routine

Building a consistent bedtime routine is an important first step to improving sleep quality. Establish a regular schedule for when you turn off screens and start winding down at night, so your brain knows it is time to start sleeping.

You can add habits like taking a shower, changing into sleepwear, or even meditating to your bedtime routine. This will help signal your brain that it is time for sleep and reduce residual activity from the day.

Put Away All Technology

We know how hard it can be to put away our devices at night, but this step is crucial for quality sleep. Make sure you turn off all screens before starting your bedtime routine to give your body enough time to wind down and enter a deeper state of rest.

Limit Screen Time During The Day

Too much screen time during the day can lead to exhaustion and make it harder for us to relax in the evening. Try setting limits on when and how long you use technology throughout the day so you can use it more mindfully in the evening.

Make your Bedroom a Screen-Free Zone

Creating a screen-free zone in your bedroom can help to limit the amount of time you're spending on technology. This means no phones, tablets, or TVs in the bedroom, and if you must have them there, make sure they are out of sight and turned off.

Get Outside During The Day

Going outside during the day is a great way to reset our sleeping patterns and establish a healthy sleep cycle. Being exposed to natural sunlight during the day will help to stabilize our circadian rhythms, which helps us get better rest at night.

Try Digital Detoxing

Every once in a while, it can be helpful to step away from our devices and take a digital detox. This means completely taking one or two days off of technology and focusing on activities that help us reconnect with ourselves and our environment.

Practice Mindful Technology Use

When we do use technology, it is essential to practice mindful usage. This means being aware of when you are picking up your device, what you are using it for, and how much time you have spent on it. Being mindful of how we use technology can help us stay present and keep better track of time.

Protecting Yourself From Excessive Blue Light Exposure

The best way to protect yourself from excessive exposure to blue light is to limit your screen time in the evening hours. This means turning off your device at least one hour before bed and avoiding late-night scrolling sessions. You should also consider investing in blue-light-blocking glasses that can help filter out the harmful wavelengths of blue light. You can also reduce exposure to other sources of blue light, such as LED and fluorescent lights, by using curtains or dimmers to control the amount of light entering your space.

Finally, it's important to remember that although some blue light exposure is beneficial for alertness and productivity during the day, too much at night can harm our health. By understanding the impact different types of lighting have on our body, we can make better decisions about protecting ourselves from overexposure. With a few simple steps, we can ensure that we get a good night’s sleep and maintain healthy eyesight in the long run.



Some Technologies are Good For Your Sleep

Although technology can disrupt our sleep, some can help us get better rest. Things like smart beds and sound machines are designed to create a more comfortable and calming environment for sleep.

Adjustable Bed Base S4

The Adjustable Bed Base S4 allows you to adjust your bed by raising or lowering it from the head or foot side. You can raise the head side by up to sixty degrees and the foot side by up to 35 degrees.

The bed base frame is made from top-quality carbon steel, providing strong support without compromising comfort. FlexiSpot has ensured that all details are done to perfection to ensure you can use the bed base easily and confidently.

The adjustments are made by a powerful motor that ensures flawless and smooth adjustments even when the bed is at its full weight capacity of 600 pounds. The motor can be controlled using a wireless remote control with backlit buttons to make it convenient in the dark.

Final Thoughts

The negative impacts of technology on our sleep can be significant, but there are steps we can take to minimize them. We can be mindful of how and when we use technology, create a screen-free zone in our bedrooms, and try digital detoxing. We can also look into designed technologies to help us get better rest, like adjustable beds and sound machines. You can improve your sleep quality today with the right tools and knowledge.

It is important to remember that sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being. By making changes to reduce the impact of technology on our sleep, you will be taking a step towards a healthier lifestyle.

Making small adjustments to your bedtime routine is an important first step to improving your sleep. With the right tools and habits in place, you can start getting better rest and wake up feeling refreshed each morning.