We’ve all been there at one point or another. It’s 2am and you’re wide awake and you realize there’s only four hours before your alarm goes off. At that point you’ve got to get up, get the kids ready, make lunches, get yourself ready, take the kids to school and then get to work before 8am. That’s enough stress to make anyone lose sleep and dread the sound of their alarm clock! The only question now is how did you get to this point? Your usual sleep routine is going to bed around 10pm and then waking up at 6am the next day, so what is going wrong in between those times?
Smartphones: Good or Bad?
In today’s society it’s very rare to come across someone who does not own a smartphone. If you do happen to meet one of these individuals they’re usually trying to fight against change and live a simpler life, and there’s really nothing wrong with that, it all depends on what our definition of a “simpler life” is. These same individuals may also be known by the name “Grandma” or “Grandpa” and be associated with the baby boomer generation, not a guarantee, but most likely. Irregardless, we are living in the information age, technology is an enormous part of our everyday lives, whether we want to admit it or not.
Cell phones today are not what they used to be 10 years ago, in fact, the first iPhone was not even released until June 2007. That means that 10 years ago nobody even knew what an iPhone or smartphone was; hard to imagine, I know. Before that it was “cool” to have a flip phone with a color screen... I should know because I had one.
In order to get a better grasp on the issue of smartphones being good or bad, let’s start by listing a few pros and cons:
- You can browse the web almost anywhere you go. (pro)
- Anyone can reach you via phone call or text when you have your phone. (pro and con)
- Facetime [iPhone] allows you to video chat for free with loved ones. (pro)
- “Status update” and reviews are a few clicks away. (pro and con)
- You can locate lost phones through various apps. (pro)
- Easy access to computer data via your smartphone. (pro)
The list could probably keep going on but for arguments sake lets say these are the top 6 pros and cons of smartphones. As you can see there are a lot of things our phones are capable of doing, and it seems like every year they are outdoing the previous phone and making the newer phones even more useful and practical; however, are these advancements in technology helping or hurting us in the long run?
The Numbers Don’t Lie
With a growing number of people suffering from a lack of sleep, sleep experts stepped in to take a closer look at the cause behind this problem. A recent survey revealed that about 63% of people in their early to late 20’s reported using their phones for Facebook and other social media sites right before going to bed. While 34% of the older generation, 30 to 45 years old, reported using their phones during the same times. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but for those indulging in this guilty pleasure there are studies that have shown it is doing more harm than good.
One of the more recent discoveries in this epidemic is that the screens on the phones, tablets and computers we use are emitting a blue light that is actually suppressing the body’s ability to produces melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that controls your sleep cycle, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm, so it is pertinent to a good night’s sleep. Not to mention that something you may read on Facebook, or other social media sites, may stir up your emotions, for good or bad, and cause you to get upset, and that is not conducive to a good night’s sleep either.
If you’re using your phone before bed to see what your friends are up to and then updating your Facebook status: “About to go to sleep, goodnight everyone!”, then in reality you’re actually NOT about to go to sleep. In fact you’re probably going to lay awake in bed while you toss and turn and then find yourself lying awake at 2am cursing your “insomnia”, when in reality the problem started because you could not resist using your phone/tablet/computer right before you laid down to sleep, and now your body is awake instead of sleep.
Put Your Phone Down At Night
While everyone is different, we may not all have the same issues when it comes to sleeping, so don’t feel like putting your phone down before you crawl into bed will solve all your sleeping problems. The truth is, there could be any number of reasons why you are not sleeping well at night, smartphone usage is just one of them. Some people cannot sleep at night because their partner snores so loud it sounds like a freight train running through their room. Others may have a temperature in their bedroom that is too hot or too cold and could be preventing them from sleeping.
The best advice I can give anyone who is suffering from “sleep deprivation” or “insomnia” is to take a step back and look at your habits or routines before you go to sleep. Ask yourself, “Is this helping me prepare to go to sleep, or keeping me awake?”. If your activities are doing more to keep you awake rather than prepare for sleep then you might want to change them. Something as small as dimming the light in your bathroom while you brush your teeth, and keeping the light off in your bedroom before you go to bed can help your body relax and prepare to sleep. Also, putting your phone away 45 min. to 60 min. before you lay down will encourage your body to produce more melatonin sooner. If looking at your phone is too much of a temptation then I suggest putting it in a different room. I know, a lot of people use their phone as their alarm clock, but it would certainly be worth the few extra dollars to invest in an alarm clock if it meant you got a better night’s sleep.
Snoring is more than just a nuisance—it disrupts the sleep habits and lives of 90 million American adults and their partners. That's why we set out in 2003 to restore sleep and help as many people as possible live happier, healthier lives.