Why Imposing a Technology Curfew is The Best Way to Switch Off
It’s late. You really should be winding down for sleep. But hands up, who hasn’t been tempted to watch just one more episode of that latest box set? Or play a quick video game? Or check your Instagram? We’re all guilty of giving in to the irresistible temptations of digital technology. But instead of helping you relax and switch off, using tech late at night actually has the opposite effect.
Why? Because mental activity plus blue light equals the wide-awake club.
From tired to wired
There’s growing evidence that suggests the high level of visual and cognitive stimulation in electronics and video games can put your body into the fight-or-flight state. This ‘hyperarousal’ is an acute stress response that usually happens when you’re in danger or under threat. You don’t need to be playing an action game – or any game at all. Even surfing the net, sending innocent texts or getting wound up by a comment on social media will induce this same state of stress over time. And the increase in your blood pressure and pulse rate can last for hours after you’ve hit the off button.
The blue light spectrum
Then there’s the effect of light. Different spectrums of light have a different influence on your internal clocks at night. Light at the dark red end of the spectrum has little influence on sleepiness. But blue light, which falls within the spectrum of high energy visible light, sets your clocks back the most - and is the most detrimental to your sleep schedule. And that’s exactly the kind of artificial light that’s emitted by smartphones, tablets, laptops and screens.
Body clock balance
The science is simple. Exposure to blue light increases your heart rate and temperature and your body stops producing melatonin - the hormone that regulates sleep. Natural exposure to blue light during daylight hours is great because it boosts your energy levels and makes you feel happy and alert. In fact, if you’re not exposed to blue light during the day, your body will start releasing melatonin in anticipation of darkness and that will make you start to feel sleepy. So, it’s no surprise that blue light at bedtime will have exactly the same effect. Switch on the bedroom TV or activate your tablet screen and you’ll stop producing melatonin, which will make it harder to nod off when your head hits the pillow.
If you can’t fall asleep easily or feel restless at night, the chances are you’ll feel exhausted the next day too. You’ll be off your game at work, find it hard to concentrate or be productive. Then you’ll hit repeat and the whole cycle will happen again. To maintain a good sleep balance, you need to make sure you’re exposed to blue light in the morning, but not at night. So if you must play with your lightsabre, best to join the dark side and make it the red one if after 7pm!
So, there’s only one thing for it – a tech curfew at night. Switch off your gadgets and take a book to bed to read under a soft, warm white bedside light. A good, old-fashioned paperback is perfect, but if you must use an e-reader choose a Kindle Paperwhite rather than a Kindle Fire – it doesn’t produce the same type of sleep-inhibiting blue light.
And don’t forget to take your 15ml of Benenox when you’ve finished your chapter. It will give you the complete overnight recharge you need to reduce tiredness and fatigue and support your energy functions. So, you’ll get out of bed feeling far less zombie and much more full of zest.
Sign up to the Benenox newsletter for more like this