No matter how hard you try not to get sucked in, we live in the digital age. For most people, everything we do revolves around screen time, where you’re staring at a phone, TV, or computer screen. We use computer screens for work and school, our phones for social media, and TV screens for entertainment.
While screen time is unavoidable for most, it’s not necessarily always a good thing. For instance, studies are showing that excess or late screen time involved with staying online for too long could have a detrimental effect on your sleep.
If you’re curious about how and why staying online has an effect on your sleep, keep reading. This article will delve into how electronic screens and the act of staying online can keep you up at night and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Why Does Staying Online Too Long Affect Your Sleep?
There are a number of mental, physical, and psychological reasons why staying online too long will affect your sleep. The main reason, however, is because of how the light emanated by electronic screens affects your brain.
Blue Light and Sleep
Whether by chance or by purpose, the light from electronic screens emits unique, short wavelengths that are designed to keep people alert, active, and productive. This light, better known as blue light, makes mobile devices and electronics perfect for daytime use, work, and school.
However, when you absorb blue light at night, these wavelengths are less desirable. While most people think they’re winding down when watching a TV show or browsing the internet while lying in bed, they’re actually doing the exact opposite. By absorbing blue light, you’re inadvertently absorbing energy, which will make it difficult to fall asleep anytime soon.
Additionally, blue light also delays the process of how your body releases melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. By delaying the release of melatonin, your body won’t get weary and wind down as fast, and it will take longer for you to fall asleep.
How Daylight and Melatonin Affect Sleep
The second big reason that staying online too long will affect sleep is because of how light and melatonin affect each other. The body has an internal clock that’s controlled by light, darkness, and various hormones, including melatonin.
During the day, when it’s light outside, and the sun is shining, melatonin lies dormant. However, when the sun goes down, and darkness is approaching, your body automatically releases melatonin, a hormone that insights drowsiness and sleepiness.
As we learned above, however, electronic screens emit blue light. Even though blue light doesn’t come from the sun, it’s still a form of light and can inhibit the release of melatonin. Therefore, by staying online, you’re tricking your body into thinking it’s daytime because your system is absorbing light. This will make it take much longer to fall asleep because it takes longer for melatonin to release.
When Should I Cut Off Screen Time Before Going to Sleep?
Because of how blue light from staying online, checking your phone, or watching a movie affects your sleep patterns, it’s vital to put your electronic devices away at night. At most, you should keep screen time in the evenings to two hours or less. You should also try to cut off your screen time by at least one hour before going to bed. Although this is difficult, it will greatly improve your sleep patterns.
Other Reasons Staying Online Too Long Will Affect Your Sleep
In addition to the harmful effect that blue light has on your body when it comes to sleep, here are several other reasons why staying online too long can keep you up at night.
It Keeps Your Brain Turned On
Your brain isn’t a machine in that you can simply flip a switch and turn it off. Instead, it takes time for your brain to shut down so that you can fall asleep. It will take even longer if you’re watching a movie or browsing social media.
Can Cause Stress and Anxiety
Depending on what you’re doing online, it can make you experience stress, anxiety, or worry, all of which will keep you up at night.
It’s Wasted Sleep Time
Finally, staying online too long will affect sleep for the most obvious reason of all – you have to be awake while you’re online. Therefore, the longer you keep looking at your phone, checking social media, or watching TV, the less time you’ll have to actually be asleep.
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