SLEEPING WITH THE DIGITAL ENEMY​

Tips to help keep your phone out of the bedroom and your circadian rhythm in sync.

If you’re among the 71% of people who cuddle up with their devices at night, you may feel tired and groggy the following day. That’s because the light from your devices is picked up by cells in your eyes that are tied to the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. As you scroll through your social media feed, your brain thinks: “Light! It’s still daytime, don’t release melatonin.” As a result, it takes longer for you to fall asleep. Dr. Samer Hattar was among the team at the National Institutes of Health scientists who discovered these light-detecting “intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells,” or ipRGCs. Hattar and his team can now prove that a good night’s sleep starts with powering down your devices first. Bottom line: limit your exposure to artificial light, especially blue light from screens, so your brain gets the signal from darkness to begin producing melatonin and shut down the production of cortisol. This will hugely affect your circadian rhythm and greatly benefit your sleep.

THE TOOLS FOR BETTER SLEEP: AN ALARM CLOCK AND A SLEEP MASK

Let’s keep it simple because sleep shouldn’t be complicated. A good old-fashioned alarm clock is an analog tool, allowing you to focus solely on rest, so your phone doesn’t need to be in bed with you. And a sleep mask is a great tool to have on hand in case ambient light or a partner with a different sleep schedule makes getting your much-needed rest more difficult.

THE POWER OF SUNRISES AND SUNSETS

Another interesting finding to help you reset your inner clock comes from the researchers at the University of Colorado. They took people camping for a weekend and found that just two days of viewing sunrises (or the sun around the time of sunrise) and sunsets reset their hormone rhythms properly. They experienced a healthy level of high in the morning and low in the evening. This means that their cortisol levels were normalized (a hormone that promotes wakefulness) in the morning, and it made their melatonin (a hormone associated with sleep) high in the evening.

The pattern for many of us who have bright lights on at home at night is to have these hormones shift to a 2-4 hour delay, making us groggy on waking and having trouble falling or staying asleep. Mother Nature is showing us once again that there is a way to align our biology properly. We don’t have to do this every day, but if we can, we should all try to see a sunrise and sunset every few days or, even better, every day.

FAMILY CHARGING STATION

We encourage an “electronic sundown” at your house. The goal is to get the devices out of the bedrooms. Consider a charging station in your kitchen so no one is tempted to look at the phones before bed or at night. This helps everyone get the restorative rest needed to function well the next day!


RESOURCES + TOOLS

Alarm Clocks

  • Loftie (digital and cool without the wifi EMF’s)
  • Shinola (more retro feel and look)

Sleep Masks

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