On a day that often follows our longest night of sleep all week, I felt it fitting to relay this important piece of new sleep research that I have recently been applying and seeing the benefits of firsthand.
It’s a familiar setting. We see that the clock is ticking down to our desired bedtime and we realize it would be a good time to catch up on email, our e-book, or some internet activity just before bed. For many of us, this might be a lengthy endeavor and for others a short one. Nevertheless if we partake in it, new research shows that our sleep will suffer.
In a New York Times article published in 2012 and later corroborated again by findings published in TNYT in late 2014, the artificial light from screens can significantly reduce our production of melatonin, which is what our brain needs to enter into deep and restful sleep.
In fact one study showed that just two hours of screen time reduced our melatonin production by 22%!
If you’re like I was, initially you may think that this is no big deal. I mean lets face it, you still sleep, you can still function and after your morning coffee you’re not all that tired, right?
Well something that is important to note is that the majority of your bodies healing, recovery, detoxifying and restorative processes occur during sleep. This means that without adequate sleep (both quantity and quality) you will not be recovering well from the normal metabolic processes of the day, from inflammation or injury or from sickness or disease that your body is trying to ward off. You will also dramatically speed up the aging process of your body.
What other new brain research has found is that during sleep we also eliminate brain waste that is the normal byproduct of thinking. That’s right, every thought produces waste and it must be eliminated during sleep when our thinking is turned off. Pretty cool right? Without sufficient sleep, brain waste can accumulate causing memory and cognitive problems. Knowing this, is it any wonder that as we age we tend to sleep less and our mental function tends to decline?
Basically the point is that we want to have the best sleep possible for the health of our body and our mind.
Here are a few questions to see how your sleep is-
Do you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night?
Do you have dreams often? (this occurs only in the deepest sleep states)
Do you wake up feeling rested?
If you answered no to any of these than your sleep needs help.
An easy way to begin to improve it is to abstain from screens for at least one hour before bed. Cell phones, tablets, computers, e-readers and although the article didn’t mention it specifically I’m sure that television will have the same effect although maybe slightly less dramatic given the distance it is from our eyes.
I made this change recently and I’ve noticed a BIG difference in my sleep quality and how I feel. Give it a few weeks and I think you will too.
P.S. Here is the article link- http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/really-using-a-computer-before-bed-can-disrupt-sleep/