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It’s the bedtime routine for so many of us: Hop into the pajamas, flip the lights off, crawl into bed and then… reach for the cell phone.
We’re all guilty of it. And hey, you may even find yourself guilty of it right now while reading this article. But since you’re here, you might as well soak up this useful knowledge — then go to bed!
We spend all day feeding our brain information, so when it comes time to turn it off, we should do the same thing to our phones too. Numerous studies have found that using your phone before bed is harmful to your overall health, so let's break it down and see why.
Blue light is harmful to your eyes.
The blue light emitted by your cell phone screen restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm). This makes it even more difficult to fall asleep and wake up the next day. The circadian rhythm seems to be especially sensitive to blue light since it has a short wavelength. Studies also show that exposure to blue light can cause damage to your retinas.
Increases alertness at night.
Say you just received a strongly worded email or saw a Facebook post you didn’t agree with. It’s going to be more difficult for you to relax and go to sleep now that you’re all fired up. Even if it's not upsetting content, keeping your mind engaged by scrolling through your phone can trick your brain into thinking it needs to stay awake.
Compromises alertness the next morning.
Since you spent that extra time staying awake reading emails instead of sleeping, now you're going to be more tired and less alert for the next day. And who wants to be less aware and more sluggish throughout the day? Aside from the fact that late-night scrolling can make you less efficient, it can also lead to a significant and chronic deficiency in sleep.
Reduces total amount of REM sleep.
If you can, try putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode or silent when you go to bed. Because even though you may not be on it, the text alerts, game notifications or email buzzes can interrupt your deep sleep.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “Without my phone, what am I supposed to do before bed?” Don’t worry! Here are some tips and advice to help you get to sleep without your handy sidekick.
Stop using electronic devices 30 minutes before bed.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you should stop using electronic devices, like your cellphone, at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Instead, grab the book that’s been tucked away in your nightstand and start reading before bed. You’ll be impressed with how much more quickly you fall asleep and how much better you’ll feel the next day.
Put your phone away in another room.
Putting your phone in the kitchen, bathroom — heck, even basement to charge overnight will help discourage you from checking it during the night (especially if you're basement is particularly spooky). If you’re worried that you may miss a call in case of an emergency, set it so that it only rings when certain people are calling, but still place it out of bed and out of reach — just in case you get tempted.