This is not another article about what to eat and what not to eat at bedtime. It is, however, about what you consume. You and your brain, that is.
A few nights ago, while tossing and turning, I did exactly what I tell others not to. I grabbed my iPhone and began surfing. Solitaire. Facebook. TED. Cruising my mail. I finally landed on USA Today. Sound off, careful not to touch/click on any sudden, blaring audio/video that might disturb my peaceful, sleeping husband, I began to comb the headlines of the coming morning. In USA Today terms, these are referred to as, "All the News You Need to Know," or "All the News You Missed Today." Either way, I was "in," hoping to be both bored enough to fall back asleep or enchanted enough to keep myself occupied. Suddenly, I landed in Tech World. "What's the last app you open before sleep?"
In the not-so-distant past, the question might have been, "What do you watch before bedtime." TV time. The good ole days of Johnny Carson for those of us that remember, and the soon to be good old days of Letterman. Reruns, too, like comfort food, could work well, making us laugh, or feel, or even just plain bore us to bits enough so that we might sleep. I've been known to zone out to QVC just to hear the insipid drone and sales pitch of jewelry, housewares and other assorted stuff in the wee small hours, but consider my last app before sleep?
I'm more inclined to tell you what I'm reading. Whatever happened to the bedtime luxury of a good book? Is there any greater pleasure than a deep novel? One that makes you struggle and want to keep your eyes open? Don't you love the feeling of finally succumbing to the bliss of the sandman and perhaps eight uninterrupted hours of shut-eye? Alas, it's not the old-style sleep rituals we are considering here.
So what whets the late night app-etite? App-arently pictures -- those on dating sites, like Tinder, (consider your own love life) and Instagram, because people like waking up to the prospect of having been, "liked," by hundreds of others while they were sleeping. Of course, there are shopping sites, like Hautelook, the Nordstrom fashion app and there's Medium, which actually makes some sense to me as it features lots of conceivable stories. At least this attempts to be redolent of that kinder, gentler ritual known as the bedtime story. My 17-year-old daughter tells me her favorite bedtime app is BuzzFeed. Note: mobile app only because, "It's customizable." That means that she can fill her head before bed with as many celebrity features, lightweight items and pictures as possible. Hmm. BuzzFeed might be the winner here scoring big with teens in both the "pictures," and reading categories!
But what's the real problem with looking at your iPhone, Android, iPad, computer screen or even television at bedtime? Pretty simple, actually. Never mind the psychological disturbances that might follow after reading a horrible story just as you close your eyes. No. The problem with looking at your iPhone is all about blue light. Exposure to blue light causes an unfortunate exchange between your brain and your pineal gland, one where in layman's terms, you are suddenly not producing necessary amounts of melatonin. Reduced melatonin production at nighttime greatly impacts sleep. Backlit devices emit blue light. So the proposed bottom line is blue light exposure at bedtime results in negative sleep time.
Bottom line now revealed, but if you find you simply can't resist the temptation to check in with your phone at bedtime or worse, in the middle of the night, don't do as I do. Consider the, "Deep Sleep," app featuring the lilting Scottish vocal tones of Andrew Johnson, or why not try a hypnotic roll with a super 3D app like Koi Pond, or even Sleep Tracker.
Here's looking app you. Good night.