Have you been scrolling through your social media feeds late into the night? Do you find yourself weighing between interesting content on the internet and a good night’s sleep? You’re not the only one who’s developed this habit and is striving to unlearn it. We would like to bring your awareness to the impact that social media, blue light exposure, and screen time have on our sleep patterns. We’re trying to make you a little more aware of what may be operating in the background.
Before delving into the unfavorable effects of blue light on sleep, let’s look at what it really is. Blue light is emitted by screens on our smartphones, computers, and electronic gadgets we use regularly. Sorry to pop the bubble, but it, unfortunately, does not share a great rapport with our internal biological clock, aka circadian rhythm. Opposing the effort to fall asleep, blue light tricks our brain into thinking it’s still daytime, making it harder for us to fall asleep. What you may perceive as unwinding with a bunch of Instagram reels, is actually the blue light telling your brain to stay awake.
When we are engrossed in our feeds at bedtime, we’re borrowing from our precious sleep time, and slowly getting into an unhealthy sleep cycle. Despite spending hours watching and sharing content online, we still experience fear of missing out (FOMO). Owing to our professional roles, screen time is unavoidable. Therefore, while we continue in our roles, staying more cognizant of the impact of screen exposure certainly helps. Understanding that the excitement to dig deeper for more fascinating content brings along the anxiety that keeps us up and alert longer than ever.
How does it directly cause difficulty in retiring to sleep and sustain it?
The longer we interact with social media, the less time we get to sleep. Usage of social media for a longer duration also means a relatively immense influx of information which may overwhelm an individual, making them prone to anxiety. Studies show that without intending it, our smartphones become our not-so-desirable companions at bedtime, getting in the way of us falling asleep. Once you start enjoying this process, being oblivious to the effect it has on you, it becomes a repetitive behavior. This chronic sleep deprivation may pave the way for several sleep disorders, in some cases, even insomnia. We scratched the surface of circadian rhythm being disturbed by exposure to blue light.
Research has found that it suppresses melatonin, the chemical that enables an individual to fall asleep. This is responsible for the circadian rhythm being altered significantly. As per a research paper, the aspect of emotional stimulation involved in the consumption of content online must also be considered. It could be news that’s hard to wrap our heads around or a constant comparison of lifestyle. These unpleasant emotions can further disrupt our sleep patterns, making it a matter of concern.
What can we do to set this right?
As grateful as we are for technology, mindful usage of it within the recommended time frame can make it sustainable for preserving physiological and psychological health.
For starters, setting screen time limits is a small step that can aid in cutting back on excessive scrolling at night. Using blue light filters on devices reduces the amount of it emitted, easing it out for the eyes and thereby, circadian rhythms. Curating and following through a calming bedtime routine sends a reminder to your body about slowing down for the day. For some, reading a comfort book, a hot-water bath, or a gentle massage may work the magic. If you’re finding it difficult to get sleep and/or remain asleep, professional help is just a step away.
Your sleep matters just as much as your emotions do! We wish you peaceful sleep and restful nights in sync with the clock of your body!