Is technology ruining your sleep?

Is technology ruining your sleep?

As the night goes on and the day gets darker, you may start to feel a little less energetic and a little more sleepy. In preparation for bedtime, our brain begins the process of releasing melatonin, the hormone responsible for controlling sleep levels.  The increase of melatonin tells our body it’s time to sleep, and we begin to wind down. At least, that’s what supposed to happen.

People around the world are getting less and less sleep. In a recent article for the New Yorker, Maria Konnikova explores just how little sleep people are getting, and what’s causing this drop. Charles Czeisler, the chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says the amount of sleep people get on a weekday has dropped one and a half hours in the past five decades. While many factors affect sleep patterns, it would appear the main culprit is something surprising: blue light.

Our circadian rhythm, or internal clock, uses light to tell us what time of day it is, and thus how much energy we should have.  At dusk, when the sky gets a little darker, our circadian rhythm adjusts, interpreting that bedtime is approaching. The brain starts releasing melatonin begins. However, if we look at an electronic screen during this time, our brain interprets the blue light emitted as daylight, and instead of a surge of melatonin, we get a surge of energy. The circadian rhythm is completely thrown off, making it much harder to fall asleep later on.

Of course, avoiding blue light in the evening is pretty difficult. It comes from televisions, phones, computers, and even some e-readers.  Watching the evening news, catching up on emails, or reading on a tablet is part of almost everyone’s evening routine. So how can one continue to do these things without disturbing their sleep cycle?

Phonetic Eyewear’s computer glasses absorb blue light and stop it from entering your eyes. The photoreceptors in your eyes interpret light and tell your body what time of day it is. If the receptors don’t notice the blue light, the brain won’t go into daylight mode, therefore leaving the circadian rhythm uninterrupted. By wearing computer glasses in the evening, you can keep your brain’s natural melatonin cycle in check, and sleep happier later on.

While the best thing to do is avoid electronic screens as the night goes on, sometimes that’s just impossible to do. So rather than fall victim to tossing and turning all night, and a morning not even coffee can save, try using computer glasses to filter blue light and keep your sleep cycle undisturbed.

To read more about sleeping patterns and blue light, check out Maria Konnikova’s article “Why Can’t We Fall Asleep?” on the New Yorker’s website.