Screen Time & Sleep: What It Means for Your Health

With daylight saving around the corner, let’s talk about sleep. We have so many demands during the course of the day—jobs, family, errands—not to mention finding some time to relax. For the most part, we find that we have more time to relax right before bed. While this may sound like a great time to catch up on your favorite TV show or spend hours scrolling through your social media timeline, it can actually disrupt your sleep and affect both your mental and physical health.

While everyone knows that sleep is essential for your health, you may not know what quality sleep looks like.

Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep isn’t only about the total hours of sleep you get, or the next day mood swings and lack of focus. A good night’s rest allows your body and mind to recharge to remain healthy and fend off diseases. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly causing short-term difficulties such as poor quality of life and ability to stay alert while long-term it can trigger serious health problems including high blood pressure and diabetes.

But how much sleep do you really need? Most adults require between 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

Effects of Screen Time

Sleep can be disrupted by many things. One of the main distractions is too much exposure to light, such as your TV or phone. This type of light exposure is considered detrimental to getting a good night’s sleep and interferes with both the quantity and quality of sleep.
90% of people in the U.S. admit to using a technological device during the hour before turning in to sleep to help them relax at night according to The National Sleep Foundation. If you’re one of these people, you may not realize the extent to which this can make it harder to settle down to sleep.

Screens can emit a blue light that sends a strong signal to your brain that it is daytime or wake time. If you’re looking at a screen at night, it can increase your alertness at a time when you should be sending sleep signals to your brain.

Getting Back on Track

For your overall health, make sure you take the time to wind down before bed—remember we are not a device with a power switch. To get yourself back on track, start small. Try setting a realistic digital curfew where you turn off all electronic devices for the night. Then, replace this time with other alternatives like reading a book, doing mundane chores, talking to your loved ones about their day, or listen to soothing music.

If you often have trouble sleeping, or if you often still feel tired after sleeping, talk with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to assess your symptoms and try to improve your sleep for a better night’s rest.

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