Change 22

Out like a light

Shut down for shut eye.

It’s not just your devices that need recharging. Without enough sleep, we start the day like a smartphone on 5% battery.

Speaking of smartphones, if you’re struggling to get enough ZZZs, it could be that your devices are partly to blame. The blue light emitted by our screens can mess with the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle, called the ‘circadian rhythm’. When our eyes are exposed to blue light, it tricks them into thinking it’s sunlight. Our body then holds off releasing the ‘sleep’ hormone, melatonin (which makes us feel drowsy), because it thinks it’s daytime.

By looking at our screens at night, we interfere with the body’s bedtime signals. As a result, we don’t feel sleepy, so we stay up later, and we get fewer hours of quality shut eye. Which is great for coffee shop owners, but not so great for you.

Try to get into the habit of preparing your body for sleep each night with the following ‘sleep hygiene’ suggestions:

  • Switch off screens an hour before bed. Try reading, meditating or listening to podcasts instead to wind down.
  • Most smartphones have in-built blue-light filters as an option in the settings, but if not, you can download one of the many free apps to adjust it. For your laptop or desktop, try an app like f.lux that changes the warmth of your display to mimic the sky’s lightness outside.
  • In the hours before bed, make your environment as dark as possible by dimming overhead lights or using lamps.

Now, if only there was a smartphone setting that could switch off your partner’s snoring. Sweet dreams!

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