Why you are having trouble sleeping:

Part 1

Why a good nights sleep is important

Researchers all across the world have been studying the recent surge in sleeplessness and insomnia in people of all ages. There are many theories as to why more people have trouble sleeping at night, and what could be causing it. This is an important field of research because sleep is a very vital part for our well-being. Sleep deprivation can put you at risk of heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. In addition to the physical health problems, it could also cause depression, decrease in sex drive, loss of motivation, skin aging, forgetfulness and a decrease in productivity. In the next couple weeks we will go over some of the different theories as to what could be causing sleep deprivation, but it’s important to understand that none of these have been completely proven and more research is still needed to completely understand the problem we are facing. This week we will cover the affects mobile devices are having on your sleep.  


How mobile devices disrupt sleep


One of the more interesting theories involve the use of electronic devices such as cellphones, tablets and laptops late at night. The theory is that artificial light or all light outside of the one produced by the sun is a relatively new invention when compared to the entire existence of our species. Through years of evolution our bodies adapted too being awake during the day and sleeping at night. The artificial light in our electronic devices tricks our bodies into believing it’s day time, according to Dr Charles Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard University.


Light stimulated cells in the retina, the area at the back of the eye that transmits messages to the brain. The light-sensitive cells inform our body what time it is. Simply put these cells then trigger our brains to release hormones that will makes us feel sleepy (melatonin) or alert (cortisol). All artificial light is thought to inhibit the release of melatonin, keeping us awake longer.


Mobile devices produce blue light from bright, high-quality screens. Not only is the light brighter than on older phones, but mobile devices are closer to your eyes than a television set would be.


In addition to the type of light your device is emitting, having your cellphone close by keeps you on alert while you sleep. We sleep in cycles of 1.5 to 2 hours, with brief moments of waking in between that normally go unnoticed. This is again due to our evolutionary past, where if we would stay fast asleep throughout the entire night there is the chance that we would become prey to a predator such as a lion.


In these brief moments, however if we were to receive a text message or email alert there is a chance that the cognitive part of our brain is stimulated and we become fully conscious. Then if we proceed to check our phones our bodies will believe it is time to wake up and it will be tough to go back to sleep.


Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert, believes that “in order to get a good night’s sleep, you have to feel safe and not worried about anything. By having your phone close by at night you’re subconsciously saying you wish to attend to that phone.


What are some possible solutions?


We understand that for some, putting away the cellphone for good after a certain hour is not reasonable, just in case of an emergency or because of work.


What we would suggest is:

    • If you must use your cellphone before bed turn down the brightness as much as you can
    • Instead of watching a movie or a show on your tablet before going to bed, read a book or a magazine. If you must watch a movie keep the device as far from your eyes as possible
    • Don’t depend on your phone as your alarm clock
    • Give the company you work at, friends and family your house phone number so that you don’t have to turn on your mobile device throughout the night too check for missed calls
    • Set email alerts, and text messages on vibrate when it’s time to go to bed
    • I know the idea may sound silly but there are sun glasses that actually block blue light and some people say they receive less stress on their eyes and feel more relaxed when they wear them, one of the well known brands is called blublockers . You can find them on amazon   [icon name=”basket1″ style=”” color=”accent4″ size=”20″ ]


Sign up for our newsletter or like us on facebook to find out how your diet and eating habits affect your sleep when we publish the second edition of this article next week. [icon name=”facebook1″ style=”” color=”” size=”16″ ]