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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 September 18, 2020

      7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

      7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

      Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

      Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

      1. Exercise Daily

      It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

      If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

      Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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      If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

      2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

      Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

      One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

      This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

      3. Acknowledge Your Limits

      Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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      Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

      Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

      4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

      Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

      The basic nutritional advice includes:

      • Eat unprocessed foods
      • Eat more veggies
      • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
      • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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      Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

        5. Watch Out for Travel

        Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

        This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

        If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

        6. Start Slow

        Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

        If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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        7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

        Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

        My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

        If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

        I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

        Final Thoughts

        Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

        Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

        More Tips on Getting in Shape

        Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

        Reference

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