It’s a common occurrence to scroll through your phone until you are ready to go to sleep. Some people enjoy a few sessions of Candy Crush, while others like to peruse the Gram. No matter the phone activity, staring at a screen until you need to go to bed can lead to an inability to fall asleep. That’s why sleep experts say that it is imperative to create a screen-free bedtime routine.
How can you avoid screens when they are so easily accessible? It’s very easy to unconsciously stare at your phone, answering emails, liking texts, and commenting on videos or pictures. Looking at your phone seems like a harmless habit, but staring at a screen stimulates the brain, delaying REM sleep. When the brain revs up in that way, it can keep you awake way past your normal bedtime. And if you can’t fall asleep? Well, you may just start scrolling through your phone again.
How Your Phone Impacts Your Sleep
Smartphones make your life easier and they can be incredibly useful. They entertain you when you’re bored and serve as an informational source. The one major problem is that they are hard to put down because they are so amazing. They keep your mind engaged, stimulating your brain with information and light stimulation. The act of checking your phone stimulates the brain as much as the light does. The anticipation of that text chime or notification sound also inhibits your ability to relax and fall asleep.
Some Content Can Cause Intense Emotions
If you fall asleep in a peaceful, relaxing setting, you will enter sleep in that way. When you engage with your phone too close to bedtime, it can negatively impact those positive feelings. Scrolling through social media can spark outrage or make you feel a certain way about yourself. The stress and anxiety that tend to accompany social media scrolling can easily disrupt sleep. Seeing something right before bed that makes you excited and happy is not conducive to sleep. That response delays REM sleep and you may just end up staring at the ceiling for hours.
You Wake Up Feeling Groggy And Tired
Research indicates that screen time before bed can make you feel tired and groggy when you wake up in the morning. It’s almost as if your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders and energy levels are low. As previously mentioned, scrolling through TikTok or Instagram at night can open your mind to a whirlwind of emotions. When you cannot fall asleep easily, you get less sleep and the quality of your sleep isn’t as good after a scroll session. Lack of sleep causes decreased mental function and irritability, so you won’t be very productive as you go about your day.
The Light From Your Phone Disrupts Sleep
The artificial color that your screen emits is blue light, which mimics daylight. Blue light is excellent during the day, as it signals your brain to make you feel more alert. You don’t want feelings of alertness when you are falling asleep, though. Looking at your phone until bedtime can suppress melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone responsible for controlling your sleep-wake cycle. When the body is low on melatonin, you can experience insomnia and tiredness during the day. On top of all that, studies have shown that the blue light from your phone is also bad for your vision. In fact, an animal study found that blue light can be toxic to retina photosensitive cells, which are irreplaceable. More human studies are necessary, though.
Your Phone Keeps Your Mind Engaged
Checking your phone stimulates your brain. The last thing you need when you turn off the lights is more stimulation and information. Besides the alertness you get from the light of the screen, thinking about your phone and potential notifications keeps your brain on high alert. Each notification, especially if your phone lights up and distracts you from the darkness, jolts you out of potential sleep. Face your phone down and put it away from your pillow when going to bed for that reason.