Your Devices, Electronic Boogeymen

Commonly known but often ignored, electronic screens before bed time have a negative impact on your health. However, that “one more episode,” which turns into three, could be slowly killing you. Light-emitting screens can be electronic boogeymen by keeping you up later than you should and making falling asleep difficult. So, what is affected by screen time at bedtime and how you can combat it?

Effects Resulting Problems
Harder to Fall Asleep than Usual Continued lack of sleep can contribute to health problems and serious conditions later down the road. It also can affect your mood, relationships with others, and ability to think clearly.
Staying Up Later than Planned Not only does staying up later affect the quality and quantity of sleep, it also can throw off your circadian rhythm (also known as your sleep cycle) which can have you feeling unsettled or grumpy for more than a week.
Sleepy and Less Alert the Next Day If you can’t focus you may not teach/learn as well as you normally do or you’ll miss critical information in a meeting/email. Even more alarming, if you’re not alert on your way into work, there could be serious consequences involving pedestrians or other drivers.


What Counts as “Screen Time before Bed Time?” 

Any device which utilizes a light-emitting screen such as, but not limited to, eReaders, laptop, nook, tablet, iPads, smartphones, and TV counts toward screen time. Using these devices can affect your sleep even if you put it down as much as twenty minutes before sleeping.


What Can I Do?

The obvious solution is to stop using electronic screens for at least thirty minutes before bed. If you need something stimulating before bed, read an actual paper book. A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston did a direct comparison between using a light emitting device and reading from a printed book which found health problems relating to sleep issues  were more likely in participants who read from a light emitting device.


But I HAVE to Grade Papers/Read My E-Book/Watch That Last Episode

If you must use screens before bed, or simply don’t wish to change your current routine, try using a filter application which limits the amount of blue light emitted from the screen. Previous studies have shown that blue light is the most affective light emitted and can harm the quality and quantity of sleep users receive. Popular apps for filtering blue light include Bluelight Filter for Eye Care on Android devices and F.lux on laptops (both PC and Mac). If nothing else, remember to dim the lighting on your device to its lowest setting at night.


The Take-Away

It is critical to reduce the amount of screen time utilized before sleeping in order to reduce negative impact on time slept and quality of sleep. Avoid screens by reading printed books  and if you have to use a screen before bed, filter out blue light. Above all, put a premium on a good night’s sleep; it not only has an effect on you now, but in the long term as well.


Information adapted from:


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