Have you ever noticed that in so many iPad and tablet ads people have their feet up while they use their devices? The idea must be that the product is so easy, so relaxing, you could even use it in bed.
People love to use their electronic devices in the bedroom -- and who can blame them when we have so many small gadgets that offer us news articles, e-books and games in one tiny package? And if you use your smartphone as an alarm clock, chances are high you're literally going to bed with some form of electronic device -- and you aren't alone.
In fact, the latest National Sleep Foundation poll found that 95 percent of Americans use some kind of electronic device within an hour before going to bed. Beyond those annoying blinking lights, using technology can interfere with getting good sleep in a couple of ways:
- The light from screens from electronics like netbooks and phones could prevent your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that is produced naturally in darkness and helps regulate sleep.
- Reading exciting news articles or playing games keeps your mind very active, making it difficult for you to relax and be "ready" to fall asleep.
- Using these devices brings the rest of your life into the bedroom, and as I've said before, the bedroom should be a sanctuary reserved for sleep.
Teenagers are almost twice as likely as their parents to use something like their phones before bed. More than half of the teenagers in the poll said that they text right before bed. Some people send so many text messages right before bed that they even begin to text in their sleep!
How often do you use a smartphone or computer right before bed or even in bed? Do you think it may be impacting your quality of sleep or your ability to fall asleep? If so, try limiting your use before bedtime and put the computer and phone to bed in another room and see if that helps. If you have a teenager in the house, try to limit their use of their cell phones as much as possible before bedtime. The poll also showed that teenagers are the most tired group, and most sleep specialists recommend teenagers get as close to nine hours of sleep a night as possible. Institute an electronic curfew -- for everyone.
It's hard, I know. So much of what we do every day involves using one or more of these devices, and it's really amazing what they can do for us, including making our lives productive and efficient. We just need to make sure that they aren't stealing our sleep in return.
Follow Dr. Michael J. Breus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thesleepdoctor