Decades ago, a television in the bedroom was considered an extravagance. Today, it’s commonplace and in addition, we also have a whole array of devices that grab our attention before we go to sleep. Laptops, smartphones, iPads or even a handheld video game.
Unfortunately, indulging in these devices can lead to a restless night and even depression if it becomes a regular event. As most of us would agree, even if the intent was to check an important late night incoming email, it’s very likely you will get carried away and end up spending much more time on your screen than you planned.
But, portable devices emit “blue light” which is similar to the light we experience outside during the day. As a result, the brain gets a signal from this blue light that it’s still daytime despite the darkness outside, possibly leading to insomnia or sleep deprivation.
Up too close and personal
This situation is compounded because most people hold smartphones and handheld video games so close to their faces. The amplified effect is far more than from a TV that’s 10 feet away.
In addition, the physical act of responding to an email, text or video increases the tension in your body which could result in stress. Your mind may be pre-occupied with the situation that has arisen as a result of that message as you go to sleep. This can happen for either good or bad news. Your body then produces the stress hormone, Cortisol, released by the adrenal gland aversive to sleep.
It’s really digital jet lag
Another explanation for this unhealthy situation is that the brain naturally creates the hormone Melatonin which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Too much light from video screens at bedtime affect Melatonin production giving the body the impression that you aren't ready for sleep.