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Don't go into the Blue Light!


I read somewhere on the interwebs a few weeks ago that it was bad to use your phone as an alarm clock. I thought it was this article on LifeHacker that led to this article on the Apartment Therapy blog, but it wasn't. Though that blog does makes some valid points. The piece I read was this one on the NYTimes Bits blog from last February. I don't remember what interweb rabbit hole I went down to get there but anyway, what got my attention was this:

"Sleep researchers say that looking at a blue light, which is produced by smartphone and tablet screens, sets off brain receptors that are designed to keep us awake and interferes with circadian sleep patterns. Experimental research has found that if people use a tablet for up to two hours before bed, it takes an extra hour to fall asleep."

AH! Science! Neuroscience! I love me some neuroscience! I talked to the faboo hubby about the aforementioned article and said we should give it a try. Why? We both have been experiencing a degradation in the quality of our sleep over the past year or so. It seemed to me that there was a direct correlation between the change in our sleeping patterns and the introduction of smartphones as alarm clocks. So this week, we decided to brave the Big Ugly Mall to buy an alarm clock. And a new coffee grinder. Yes, the irony isn't lost on me...

It has been four nights since getting the phones out of the bedroom (literally) and the change was instantaneous and epic. Here's what we found:

  • More reading of books to get sleepy. BTW: the Kindle paperwhite backlight doesn't seem to have the same effect...NOT blue light.

  • We are sleeping more soundly.

  • We are both sleeping with less or without interruption.

  • If we do wake, we just look at the clock, see the time and fall immediately back to sleep. This was NOT the case when looking at the phone to see the time. It took anywhere from 10-30minutes to get back to sleep after checking the time on the phone.

  • NO temptation to check work emails.

  • NO temptation to check Facebook to see who else is sharing the blue light/electronically induced insomnia.

So basically, we're doing everything we used to do BEFORE we brought the phones into the bedroom, when we were sleeping better. However, as I reread the list above, I feel like it's sort of silly that we needed science to remind us that playing with electronics before or while in bed is messing with our sleep. Beware that blue light! (I'm not minimizing actual insomnia here). And in a soapbox sentence: maybe we all need to reconsider our device/social media/distraction addictions. Innyhoo, for our family, we've decided that the best thing to do is to get back to the old routine: watch some tube, do the dishes, get ready for bed, wash/brush, go to bed, read and sleep. If you wake up...pee...check the time on your new/old digital clock...get a sip of water...go back to sleep.

Leave the phone downstairs. Let it charge, it probably needs the break as much as you. Now I just have to convince my 18-year old...

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