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The Risks of Using Your Smartphone Before Bed and How to Get Better Sleep

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Why it’s bad to use your smartphone right before bed? As a middle-aged man, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for your overall health and well-being. However, the temptation to use your smartphone before bed can interfere with your sleep and affect your mental and physical health. In this article, we will discuss the risks of using your smartphone before bed and provide practical tips on how to get better, sounder sleep.

Smartphone Before Bed

The Effects of Screens on Sleep Cycles

One of the biggest risks of using your smartphone before bed is the effect it has on your sleep cycle. The blue light emitted by your smartphone inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you drowsy. Melatonin levels usually increase before you go to sleep, but blue light suppresses the levels of melatonin. This makes it more difficult to fall asleep since you are more alert and not as sleepy as you normally would be.

Your sleep cycle includes REM sleep, which helps with your memory and emotional processing. Along with reducing melatonin levels, nighttime exposure to blue light can reduce the length of REM sleep, which can make you feel less alert and it may take longer to be fully awake in the morning.

A 2018 review noted that screen use within one to two hours of going to bed negatively impacted sleep, with the effect particularly pronounced in children and teenagers. Though the overall safety of cell phones is well established, cell phones may pose additional hazards, depending on how you use them.

The Impact of Stimulating Technology on Sleep

It’s not just the glow of the screen that interrupts sleep. Consider how you interact with your device. Phones are a boundless source of information and stimulation, which can provoke a state of arousal and alertness. This can make it harder to fall and stay asleep.

Not only that, the interactive nature of smartphones or devices–that they require active controlling–seems to make matters worse. Some studies suggest nighttime phone usage, as well as other interactive devices like video games, have a more pronounced effect on sleep than more passive nighttime screen activities, such as watching TV.

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Risks of Fire or Burn

Though very rare, there is a risk of your phone’s battery catching on fire, which has the potential to cause significant harm. A phone explosion or fire in bed can cause burns, pain, blistering, fluid discharges, swelling, and sloughing, or the loss of the upper layers of skin. Because of the risk of serious burn injury, Samsung had to recall one million Galaxy Note7 phones in 2016.

Establishing a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

A regular bedtime that ensures an adequate amount of rest is essential for healthy sleep. The hour before bed should consist of relaxing activities that don’t involve devices with screens. This can include taking a bath, meditating, reading, or listening to relaxing music. The following strategies can help you sleep longer and better:

Limit Overall Screen Time

Using electronic devices for long periods during the day has been linked to poor sleep and may pose additional risks to your overall health. Figuring out ways to cut back on phone, device, computer, and/or TV time can help with sleep. Try to limit overall screen time and find alternative activities that promote relaxation, such as exercise or socializing with friends and family.

Make Your Bed a Screen-Free Zone

Your bed should be for resting or sleeping only. Given the effects of the glow emitted by phones and the way they’re stimulating, consider keeping devices and phones out of bedrooms, or placing a moratorium on use for at least an hour before bedtime. Never do work in bed.

Set Up Nighttime Mode

If your phone is nearby, notifications and late-night texts can cut into your rest. Consider keeping your phone on nighttime or do-not-disturb mode at night. You can also adjust the display settings on your phone to reduce the amount of blue light emitted.

Adjust the Lighting

Bright lights, such as 100-watt light bulbs, can reduce melatonin levels, making it harder to fall asleep. Keep the lighting in your bedroom dimmer and lower intensity. Use dim red lights for night lights.

Invest in Some “Blue Blocker” Glasses

You can purchase orange-tinted glasses specifically designed to shield your eyes from blue light emissions. This may not be ideal, especially if you don’t like wearing glasses, but some studies have found them to be very effective. Blue light blocking glasses are relatively inexpensive, and you should be able to find a decent pair for less than $100.

Keep the Bedroom Cool and Comfortable

To help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, keep your bedroom cool and comfortable. Use a fan or air conditioning to cool the room down if necessary. Invest in comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress that suits your sleeping style.

Create a Ritual

A consistent and relaxing ritual before bed can also help make going to sleep easier. Try a relaxing bath, meditation, reading, or listening to relaxing music for a little while before climbing into bed. Keep your bedtimes consistent.

Conclusion

In conclusion, using your smartphone before bed can interfere with your sleep, which can negatively affect your mental and physical health. The risks include the effect of blue light on your sleep cycle, the stimulating impact of technology, and the risk of fire or burn. To get better, sounder sleep, try to limit overall screen time, make your bed a screen-free zone, set up nighttime mode, adjust the lighting in your bedroom, invest in blue blocker glasses, and keep the bedroom cool and comfortable. By implementing these strategies, you can improve your sleep quality and overall health.

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