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Blue Light: Why Should You Stop Looking at Screens Before Bed?

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

a woman in a bed playing with phone before sleep

9 April 2024 4 min read

Everyone likes to unwind before going to sleep. Some do some yoga, some read a book, watch a TV show, or play video games or browse the web. Unfortunately, activities which include a screen aren’t that healthy before bed because of blue light. Although it’s a great pastime and it’s fun, you should avoid using your phone, tablet or laptop/computer as much as possible before bedtime. Why is that? We’re going to talk about how screens and electronics affect your quality of sleep – to that point that you can even wake up tired after a long sleep.

It's not a necessity

Firstly, you need to remind yourself that the time you spend before going to bed needs to be used carefully. What you do before bed can have a strong impact on the quality of the sleep that follows. Have you ever gone to bed and took your phone with you? Be honest – how much time did you spend on that phone before going to sleep? Writing and reading emails, chatting, or playing games? The answer is always – too much.

There is a time and place for using computers and gadgets, and immediately before bed is not the right time. You’ve probably noticed that long after you’ve turned off that computer or tablet, you were tossing and turning in hope of falling asleep. There is a scientific explanation for that!

a man working late night in front of laptop

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally. It keeps track of your ‘internal clock’ and plays a major role in times we need to sleep. This hormone builds up as soon as it starts to get dark. Melatonin is the main culprit why we feel sleepy. So, when the amount of melatonin reaches its peak in our body, we will feel drowsy and yawn, until we do something about it.

So, basically melatonin is conditioned to drop as soon as it’s morning. The amount of melatonin drops in our body while we sleep, and the cycle repeats. Simple, isn’t it? There are ways you can suppress your drowsiness and sleepiness. Some medicine, coffee, energy drinks and black and green tea are some of them, but they are not going to help you for long. Coffee, for example, can make you feel less sleepy, but it doesn’t in fact decrease the amount of melatonin secreted in your body. It actually stimulates even more production in the long run, and that’s why you eventually increase doses, in other words, times you drink coffee per day.

Wait, what does that have to do with gadgets?

Well, here comes the dealbreaker. Most screens we see around us, whether it be a phone, tablet, computer or television, emit something called blue light. Blue light is a light that has a similar wavelength to sunlight. Meaning, if we expose ourselves to blue light, our body and metabolism changes as if it’s daylight, consequently lowering the amount of melatonin. So, if you like to lie in bed and catch up on some news on social media or kill a few levels of Candy Crush before going to sleep, consider it being a very bad idea.

Long exposure to blue light will keep you more active and restless, causing you to have troubles falling asleep in the evening. Your brain needs to ease into the sleep… However, if you spend a lot of time on the computer or your phone beforehand, you won’t have an easy time. That’s why we advise to do something else before bed, instead of staring at the screen.

1 hour without blue light

To prevent insomnia from happening, you need to lay aside any gadgets for at least an hour before bed. Find some fun and fulfilling activities you can enjoy before bed. Some of them can be:

Reading – it’s one of the best bedtime activities. Grab a book or your favorite magazine and you will be surprised how easily you’ll fall asleep after reading.

Yoga & Stretching – your body is going through a lot of stress during the day, and mild yoga and stretching can release tension in your muscles and make you more relaxed.

Meditation – meditation is great for introspection, getting in touch with your thoughts and practising breathing. Breathing exercises can also help relax before bed.

Hobby – start to keep a journal and write your thoughts about the day. Like to draw? Grab that sketchbook. Love music? Ease into an album from your favorite band.

Family – spend some quality time with your family. Grab a board game, play some cards or simply take the time to sit down with everyone and catch up.

an image of a man playing board games before bed time

Leave that phone

Make it a habit to leave your phone somewhere you won’t look as soon as you get home. The key to having a good night’s sleep is to not think about troubles, work, and other issues that keep us up at night. The time you spend home after work should be spent in a relaxed and positive environment. If possible, try to exercise before you go to bed  Have that in mind next time you’re going to bed, and we’re sure you’ll wake up refreshed and motivated for new challenges the next day.

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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