For many, scrolling through Facebook or Twitter in bed is just part of the nightly routine. However, studies show these activities, especially social media use, can be disruptful to the recovery processes that occur during sleep.
We sat down with Director of the DENT Sleep Center, Dr. Marc Frost, who discussed the importance of turning off electronics before bed, and shared best practices for getting a good night’s sleep.
Why is it important to “power down” before bed?
Sleep is an important way for the brain to recover from a day of critical thinking and decision making. Electronics use before bed stimulates the brain, making it difficult to fall asleep, therefore delaying and disrupting the recovery process.
“Winding down before bed gives the brain a chance to start decompressing from all the activities of the day,” said Dr. Marc Frost. “Electronics that require active involvement like Facebook or Instagram, are too stimulating and require too much attention to allow you and your brain to properly wind down.”
In addition to over stimulation, electronics emit blue light that promotes wakefulness, counteracting the natural transition to sleep.
“The light involved with the electronics can potentially lead to a decrease in natural melatonin levels. Melatonin is produced by the brain in the evening as it starts getting darker, working with your circadian rhythms to help induce sleep,” said Dr. Frost. “Bright lights prevent this.”
Dr. Frost added that while many electronics do have some type of night mode which attempt to change light frequencies, it is not an ideal or long-term solution.
Best Practices For Unplugging Before Bed
1. Limit significant physical activity (including exercise,) too close to bedtime. Exercise can have an energizing effect, making it difficult to fall asleep if done too close to bedtime.
2. Avoid caffeine within several hours of bedtime. Some people are sensitive enough that consuming caffeine after dinner time or even after lunch can have negative effects on their ability to fall asleep.
3. Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol can be very disruptive to the sleep cycle.
5. Limit the use of video games before bed. Video games are very stimulating because they rely on active involvement.
6. Get into routine! Make a habit of doing relaxing activities before bedtime so the brain will learn a relaxing pattern that signifies bedtime. These activities may include taking a warm bath or reading a book.
The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice. Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.