It wasn’t that long ago that mankind slept when their bodies told them to, and with only the sun and perhaps their small evening campfires providing light, their body clocks, also known as circadian rhythms, worked largely in conjunction with the day-night cycle.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and our customary eight-hour workdays leave us stretching out our evenings for as long as possible. Watching our favourite TV programs, Netflix, Social Media, Surfing the web, eReaders; it seems we have an endless supply of screens with our eyes aimed at right at them. Whilst our nocturnal behaviours may have changed, our body’s natural processes haven’t.
By now you may have read that many of the screens we use emit blue light – a type of short-wave light that’s one of the most disruptive when it comes to nodding off. If you have a recently released SmartPhone chances are it has a Blue Light filter for evening use, or you may have read that Australian Socceroo’s used it on their flight with Qantas to Honduras.
The sun naturally emits blue light, so blue light during the day isn’t a factor in your nighttime sleep health. However, after sundown Blue Light actually suppresses the production our sleep hormone, melatonin. The absence of sufficient melatonin ‘tricks’ our bodies into believing it’s actually daytime, preventing that all-important quick transition from awake to the land of nod. Scientists have credited the increase in sleep disorders like Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia.
What to Avoid in your Nighttime Routine
- Avoid bright screens at least 2 hours before bed.
- Don’t avoid bright light during the day. In fact, bright light during the day has been shown to boost your mood and ability to fall asleep at night.
- Dim the lights and your screens, especially your smartphone screens, 2 hours before bed.
- Books are better than eReaders. Try heading back to the paperback option for your nighttime reads.
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