Why Facebook Is Ruining Your Sleep
Achieving a Better Night’s Rest Is Easier Than You May Think
Twenty years ago, many of us wondered how much better life would be in the future – how advances in technology would benefit us. Today, we have the world at our fingertips. Technology does so much for us that it’s hard to imagine life without it. From entertainment streaming apps to social media sites and free WiFi access nearly everywhere we go, it’s virtually impossible to ever be bored. There is no need to wait to tune in for the evening news when you can access almost any information anytime you want from anywhere.
Having technological freedom is incredibly convenient, but has this convenience seemed to have taken over? To answer that question, you may need to ask yourself a few others. Why do you log in? How often do you log in? Are you happier with your sleep quality now than you were five years ago?
While logging into Facebook or Twitter while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office helps kill time, the ability to pop into the social world with the click of a button has become an obsession amongst many people.
How Social Media Affects Our Sleep
Today, about 3.8 billion people use social media. Just Facebook alone has more than 1.4 billion active users that log on every day. Don’t worry – you’re not the only one missing out on great sleep.
Several scientific studies have been performed that measure how social media usage affects sleep patterns. According to Tuck, “[a]bout 1 in 3 people experience at least mild insomnia, and 2.3 billion people have a Facebook account.” With so many people struggling to get a good night’s rest, a great deal can be said about the ability to de-stress after a long day. You might say or hear someone say that “mindlessly scrolling through Facebook” at the end of a long day helps them unwind, but is that really the case?
Piedmont Healthcare is one of many institutions that has conducted research regarding how social media affects our mental health, which can also play a significant role in our ability to sleep well. After all, do you sleep better on days that you are happy or on days that you are sad?
Typically, when people are sad, they are more likely than not to seek a distraction – and social media sites are among the easiest distractions to access. So, let’s revisit the question: Do you go on social media sites to de-stress or because you are stressed? Regardless of which you choose, it is not healthy to rely on social media if it interferes with your sleep.
How Technology Impacts Sleep:
1: Light from electronic screens stimulates your brain. Staring at any source of light alerts your brain, which results in feeling more awake. Whether you are scrolling through Instagram or staring at a light bulb, every second your eyes are exposed to light, regardless of what time it is, will stimulate your brain and make it more difficult to fall asleep and achieve deep sleep.
2: Your brain cannot tell the difference between sunlight and artificial light. Exposing ourselves to lights at night tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime. This results in the suppression of melatonin, our brain’s natural sleep hormone that helps activate sleep.
3: Digital content is designed to stimulate you. With social media dominating the internet, the world never seems to sleep anymore. Not only do we have essentially unlimited access to read content online, we have just as much ability to create it ourselves. Even sharing a quick post on Facebook before going to sleep causes your brain to release dopamine, norepinephrine, and other chemicals that aren’t meant to be released until you wake up from sleep. That post that seemed to have only taken a few moments of your time can drastically impact your entire night’s sleep.
How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
If you want to get the most out of your day in a natural way, the best thing you can do for your mind and body is to sleep better. Of course, this is easier said than done, but there are a few healthy sleep habits you can try:
1: Reduce screen time. In a perfect world, it would be best to turn off your phone a half hour before you go to sleep and leave it in another room. If you rely on your phone for an alarm, you can always leave it on the far side of your room and turn your phone’s volume up. Keeping it out of hand’s reach is an easy way to resist that impulsive temptation.
2: Turn your screen brightness down. Numerous scientific studies that have been conducted over the past several decades show that light exposure before bedtime suppresses melatonin, a key factor to a good night’s rest. The more light you expose your eyes to before bedtime, the more likely it will be for your melatonin secretion levels to decrease, meaning it will be more difficult to achieve quality sleep. If you need to look at your phone before bed, minimize your brightness or activate a night mode setting if your phone offers it.
3: Use a blue filter on your phone at night. Blue light is known for decreasing melatonin secretion much more than any other light color. Red light is proven to be the least likely to suppress melatonin. Just as we mentioned earlier about the convenience of having technology at our fingertips, there are apps you can download that minimize blue light.
While there are a number of ways to improve your sleeping habits, the best way to start sleeping better is to stay away from your phone (and all electronic screens if you can) for 30 minutes before sleep – an hour would be even better! Try to integrate a relaxing activity into your nighttime routine before bed. Best of luck and here’s to healthier sleep in the future!
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