Are Constant Status Disrupting Your Sleep?

Are you reading this article in bed on a smartphone when you should be sleeping, perchance? A half hour — or three — spacing out on news feeds, status updates or cute puppy pics has become a new nightly ritual for many of us, but it is not without cost.

A study published just last month shows that adolescents have been steadily trading away more and more hours of their nightly rest for smartphone social media scrolling. A majority are no longer receiving the amount of healthy sleep they need, is usually about nine hours a night for older teenagers. But I think we can safely assume it’s not only teens who are affected by late-night smartphone addiction.

Sleep deprivation is a uniquely modern — and preventable — health problem. For most of human history, we have risen and set with the sun, as we had limited options for movement or work in the dark nocturnal hours. This all changed with technology like cheap gas lighting, electric light bulbs, televisions, computers and, now, smartphones.

And with each new technology, physicians, sleep scientists and chronobiologists have sounded the alarm about our later and/or more irregular bedtimes. But the fact that these warnings appear in scientific research and popular science media stories with predictable regularity does not mean they are wrong.

The necessary amounts of sleep for good health at different stages in our lives have been established by millions of years of evolution. Alongside exercise and diet, sleep is one of the three major pillars of good health. It’s also arguably one of the easiest of those pillars to achieve for people of all income levels, requiring no expensive gym memberships or Whole Foods shopping trips. But we’re still falling short.

Smartphone have granted us simple ease of access while lying in bed. And the unique blue light most smartphone screens give off actually tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime, making it harder to drift off – even after the phones are put away.

More than a generation since commercial air travel began, scientists have discovered that the effects of major and rapid time zone changes linger for months, disrupting our sleep and increasing the possibility of heart attacks and other health effects.

With the little blue screen shining under our covers, many of us are living in a world that our bodies have not evolved for. And unfortunately, the designers of our social media platforms, phone apps and the phones themselves purposefully use the science of addiction to maximize use of their services.

I suggest turning off notifications, switching your screen to grayscale — those colored flags are designed to dominate your attention — and putting your phone on a charger in your living room before heading to bed in a separate room — on time.

Easier said than done, I know. But your body is missing sleep more than it’s missing another hour of zombie scrolling, so try to break that routine.

Photo Credit: freestocks.org/Flickr

34 comments

Telica R
Telica R5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Dezrae Reynolds
Dezrae Reynolds5 months ago

I agree that blue light keeps you awake, and can sacrifice a good night's sleep. You can still sleep with blue light, however, being without it may help everything! Thanks for sharing this.

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Peggy B
Peggy B5 months ago

I fall asleep in front of the 'blue' computer/tablet screen. Knocks me out every time. I set them to fall asleep when the audio or ASMR ends and I barely watch 10 minutes and I am asleep.

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Cathy B
Cathy B5 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Winn A
Winnie Adams5 months ago

Noted

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Winn A
Winnie Adams5 months ago

Thanks

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Ruth S
Ruth S5 months ago

Thanks.

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Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine Andersen5 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Ben O
Ben O5 months ago

No, not at all...

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