Need a Good Night’s Sleep? Turn Off Your Devices

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If you haven’t woke up feeling refreshed in who knows how long, you can blame your gadgets from ruining your slumber.

A new study by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) shows that people are overwhelmingly using technology before sleep, which has proven to disrupt sleeping patterns. Ninety-five percent of the people surveyed admitted to using some sort of device in the hour before sleep – and that doesn’t even count the people woken up by text messages, phone calls or emails during the night.

“Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep,” Doctor Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital explained in the press release.  “This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need.”

Lack of sleep is a problem for everyone since sleepiness can affect work and school performance, mood, driving habits, sex life and your health. It’s especially bad for the younger generation because they are still developing. Interactive technologies, such as games, surfing the Web and talking on a cell phone can be particularly disruptive because they stimulate the brain and stop you from beginning the sleep onset process.

The study revealed:

– One in ten said they were woken up by a text message or call, with 20 percent of those people saying it happens more than once a week.

– Sixty-seven percent of baby boomers surveyed admitted they watched TV in the hour before bed, with only 49 percent of people aged 19 to 29 tuning in.

– Six out of ten people used their laptop before sleeping at least once a week. Most guilty of this were the 13- to 18-year-olds: 55 percent copped to the deed.

– Only one-third of people 13 to 29 played video games before bed. The number drastically drops in the older age groups.

– The average American copes by taking naps and drinking caffeinated beverages. We’re averaging three 12-ounce caffeinated beverages per weekday. Slightly more than half of the people under 29 said they take at least one nap during the work week or school week, compared to 40 percent of people 30 and 64.

Scientists suggest doing wind down activities before bed, sticking to a strict sleep schedule and exposing yourself to bright light in the morning, but avoiding it at night. Try not to take late night naps or drink caffeinated beverages right before bed. If you’re someone who constantly worries, keep a physical – not on your computer – worry journal that you can jot things down in the middle of the night if you wake up.

And, don’t be afraid to turn off your cell phone: Whatever it is, it can wait until the morning.

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