We all do it, just before we nod off, quickly check that last Facebook post or a quick skim through the text messages and emails in bed, AFTER the light have gone out, it’s harmless right?
Actually its not harmless at all, we are playing russian roulette with our natural body rhythms, second to having a double expresso, it’s one of the worst things that you can do before trying to get some shut eye.
You see, Smartphone screens emit bright blue light so you can see them even at the sunniest times of day. But at night, your brain gets confused by that light, as it mimics the brightness of the sun and interrupts your circadian rhythm, which determines when your body releases hormones. So every time you check your phone at night, it’s sending a stream of photons right into your eyes and telling your brain not to secrete melatonin – the hormone that makes you feel tired.
Its a catch-22 situation because if you’re anything like us, probably results in you checking your phone for longer, and by the time your brain has finally had enough, it’s several hours past your desired sleep time. Do this consistently, and you’re missing out on a few hours of sleep every night.
Now, that might not sound so bad, but researchers are just beginning to understand why sleep is so important. Not only does getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night let our active neurons rest, it also supports the glial cells that are crucial for cleaning up the neurotoxins that build up in our brains throughout the day. When we don’t get enough sleep, these glial cells can’t do their jobs, and we end up with impaired memories and attention spans.
So put that phone down at night as far away from you, messages can wait till the morning, but your rest can not.