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This Is Why Electronics Don’t Belong in Your Bedroom

This Is Why Electronics Don’t Belong in Your Bedroom

Do you often find yourself up late at night, basking in the cool glow of your television or smartphone? If so, your sleep quality may be taking a hit.

Several recent studies have shown that these devices actually steal sleep from kids and adults alike. What makes this a problem is that more people than ever are using electronics in the bedroom. Here’s a few stats demonstrating the pervasiveness of the issue:

  • The 2014 Sleep in America poll by the National Sleep Foundation estimates that 89% of adults and 75% of children have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms.
  • Their 2011 poll found that in the hour before bed, up to 95% of adults regularly use tech and electronic devices.
  • Younger people are more likely to use smartphones, laptops and play video games, while older adults are more likely to watch TV.
  • Pew Research polls also found that two-thirds of adults take their smartphones to bed (that jumps up to 90% for 18 to 29 year-olds!).

Read on to learn why you should banish electronics from your bedroom and for tips on sleeping better after your digital detox.

Five Ways Electronics Affect Your Sleep and Health

Electronics work on your physical body and on your mind, which can affect your sleep schedules and contribute to sleep deprivation. Here are five of the most important ways electronic devices like smartphones, computers and TV alter your slumber.

1. Blue Light Suppresses Melatonin

It is well-established that light plays a powerful role in the regulation of our internal circadian rhythms. Electronics like televisions, smartphones, tablets, computers and even LED lights emit blue light, which is believed to be particularly important when it comes to sleep.

Recent research from Harvard and University of Toronto researchers found that light in the blue spectrum acts on our bodies by suppressing natural melatonin. Since melatonin is the hormone that induces drowsiness, delaying its release means more time spent awake and greater difficulty getting sleepy.

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2. Stimulation and Stress Keep Your Mind Awake

Active and engaging electronics like tablets, laptops, smart phones, and televisions stimulate your mind and distract you from sleeping. A recent Norwegian study correlated computer and mobile phone use before bed in particular with increased insomnia.

But, falling asleep is only part of the issue. In the 2011 NSF poll mentioned earlier, 10% to 20% of younger adults admitted to waking up multiple times per week due to disturbances from their phones and 26% admitted to texting or emailing after initially going to sleep in the 2014 poll.

Waking up to check your phone in the middle of sleep can affect deep sleep and make it harder to get back to bed. And if checking those work emails or social media accounts brings you stress, that can make it even more difficult to sleep.

Child Watching TV in the Dark

    (Photo by Sharon Drummond, courtesy Flickr.com)

    3. Regularly Missing Sleep Sets the Stage for Weight Gain

    While weight and obesity depend on several factors, sleep habits do appear to play a role according to research from the past few years.

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    One childhood study recently published in the BMC Public Health journal found overweight children slept less than normal weight kids, which authors linked with chaos in the home as well as unchecked screen time, TVs in bedrooms and other factors.

    Another Brigham Young University study found that young women with inconsistent sleep schedules were more likely to have higher body mass index ratings than consistent peers. A large scale study of nurses also found that short sleep increased obesity risk over time.

    It is believed that consistent sleep deprivation acts on the body’s physical metabolism and extra hours awake means extra hours to eat, both of which can contribute to weight gain.

    4. Delayed Sleep and Wake Lag Can Affect Health and Productivity

    An Australian survey of teenagers found that greater use of electronics (including phones, computers and TV, but not radios) was associated with greater delays to sleep/wake schedules and waking up later.

    In the 2014 NSF poll, children who had electronic devices on at night in their rooms had the highest reports of fair to poor sleep, while those who left electronics off had the highest reports of excellent sleep. Children who had electronics on sometimes also had lower average sleep duration than kids whose electronics were off or not in their bedrooms.

    In children, teens and adults alike, getting insufficient sleep is associated with impaired cognition and learning, impaired memory, impaired decision making, daytime fatigue and a wide range of health problems over time.

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    5. Associating Your Bed with Other Activities Can Make Sleep Harder

    Doing non-sleep activities in bed like watching TV, playing games, working or studying can be bad for sleep. Basically, the more things your brain associates your bed with, the less it thinks of sleep when you are there.

    Sleep hygiene experts recommend reserving the bed for rest only to train your mind for better sleep. If you can’t sleep after several minutes, it is better to get out of bed and do something like read or listen to music until you feel sleepy.

    Electronics In Bed

      (Photo by mik_pcourtesy Flickr.com)

      Detaching from Electronics and Sleeping Better

      Here are a few helpful strategies for weaning yourself or your kids off of electronics in the hours before bed along with other recognized sleep hygiene tips.

      Institute a digital detox in your home.

      Set an off limits time for televisions, computers, video games, tablets and cell phones, and have everyone check their smaller devices in a central location if needed.

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      Kill the TV and dim lights two hours before bed.

      In the hours before bedtime, start reducing bright lights and turning off the televisions. Consider swapping the bright lights in a couple of lamps for reddish or orange-toned bulbs for better evening lighting. Harvard researchers also suggest wearing blue light-blocking glasses for night owls and shift workers.

      Turn phones to silent at night.

      Make sure everyone’s phones are set to silent at night to avoid disturbances, especially if you feel like you must sleep with it nearby. If you are worried about missing emergency phone calls, there are apps that will screen calls during certain times or block certain notifications until morning so you can get undisturbed rest.

      Swap electronics for other relaxation activities.

      If you are worried about being bored without your gadgets at night, there are still many calming and non-electronic things you can do to wind down. Read with dimmer light, journal about your day, try yoga or meditation, chill out to favorite songs, or find other ways to relax.

      Tune up your sleep hygiene and bedtime routine.

      Healthy sleep habits include sticking to regular bed and wake times, allowing for at least seven hours of rest per night, getting regular sunlight and exercise during the day, keeping rooms cool, and limiting stimulants. A normal pre-bedtime routine can also help you get ready for sleep. A routine might follow a pattern like: shower, get tomorrow’s outfit ready, sip some tea, read a little, brush your teeth, stretch, and then hop into bed.

      Reducing electronics at night might take a little getting used to, but the benefits of better sleep and a healthier body and mind are well worth it. Remember, all of your e-mails, games and social media accounts will still be waiting for you in the morning!

      Featured photo credit: crumpart via flic.kr

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      Last Updated on November 12, 2020

      Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

      Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

      If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

      If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

      In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

      What Happens When You’re Too Tired

      If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

      Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

      • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
      • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
      • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
      • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
      • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
      • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
      • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

      Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

      Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

      Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

      1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
      2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
      3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

      The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

      Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

      You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

      Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

      If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

      Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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      Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

      Symptoms of fatigue include:

      • Difficulty concentrating
      • Low stamina
      • Difficulty sleeping
      • Anxiety
      • Low motivation

      These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

      Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

      How Much Sleep Is Enough?

      The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

      Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

      Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

        The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

        Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

        Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

        If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

        It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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        4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

        Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

        1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
        2. Exercising regularly
        3. Using stressbusters
        4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

        After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

        I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

        Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

        • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
        • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
        • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
        • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

        The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

        Living Healthy

        Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

        In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

        As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

        Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

        1. Unplug

        Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

        Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

        2. Unwind

        Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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        3. Get Comfortable

        Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

        Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

        Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

        This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

        Exercise

        Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

        That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

        I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

        If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

        Attitude

        Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

        When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

        But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

        Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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        1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
        2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
        3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
        4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
        5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
        6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

        This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

        When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

        Nutrition

        Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

        If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

        Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

        Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

        1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
        2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
        3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
        4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
        5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
        6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
        7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
        8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
        9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

        Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

        That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

        Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

        The Bottom Line

        If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

        If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

        Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

        More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

        Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
        [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
        [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
        [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
        [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
        [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
        [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
        [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
        [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
        [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
        [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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