You’ve probably heard that to get the best sleep you should turn off your tech 2 hours before going to bed. Here’s why that’s true (and why it could save your life!)
Just under half of millennials frequently fall asleep with their phone in their hands. A whopping 80% admit to immediately checking their smartphones when they wake up. While checking your tech late at night or early in the morning can jumpstart your productivity for the day, the cell phone screen you’re scrolling through may also cause significant damage to your eyes as a result of something called blue violet light.
Every 24 hours your body goes through a natural restorative process called a circadian rhythm (or your body's internal clock). You need to be exposed to enough darkness for your body to realize that it’s nighttime and begin to restabilize its chemical balance of hormones. Looking at your phone when it’s time to go to bed throws your body's internal clock all out of whack.
The blue light from cell phone screens emits a wavelength which our eyes process and recognize as daylight. This means that if you’re up scrolling through Instagram at one AM your body will naturally work harder to stop producing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Once you finally do fall asleep, any notification from social media that lights up your screen acts as that first ray of light in the morning, tugging at you to wake up. The effect? Your phone becomes an alarm clock, keeping you awake 24 hours a day, whether you’ve set an alarm or not. This keeps your body from doing the chemical maintenance it needs to do to ensure a long, healthy life.
These late night soirees with your phone or laptop screen can also hinder your personal happiness and success levels, especially if you spend all your time flicking through social media. In today’s world popularity on social media is becoming increasingly linked to our self image and sense of accomplishment. Studies show that going to sleep under the influence of negative emotions (such as being jealous of a clever tweet or greedy for more followers) can reinforce feelings of inadequacy.
A good way to combat the effects of melancholy and optimize your nighttime hours is to remind yourself why you rock every single night before turning out the light. Ending your day with positive affirmations (ex: I did [accomplishment] well today) will close out your day on an optimistic note and promote positive thinking, good dreams, and a take-on-the-world kind of attitude when you wake up.
When you can’t see the eye doctor, there are some simple things you can do to physically give your eyes a break. Remind yourself to blink often when working with a screen for long periods of time. This is something we naturally forget to do when focusing on a task. Blinking helps stimulate tear production and prevent your eyes from getting dry. If your screen is on your lap, at your fingertips, or closer, it may also help to pause every 20 minutes and focus on something off in the distance. Exercising your eyes can help avoid the risk of straining the muscles that control them.
Keep your eye (or iPhone!) on the prize with these tips. For more insight, check out UnCollege’s own vision by clicking here.