Sound sleep doesn’t seem to be a common occurrence during these technologically advanced days, and we often find ourselves sleeping for 4-5 hours a night when we should be sleeping 7-8 hours. Sound sleeping patterns help with the recovery and development of skeletal muscle tissues, allow us to perform daily activities better, and help with thinking patterns.
Is Sleeping Really That Big of an Issue?
Absolutely! Before the age of light exposure during the evenings, our ancestors would get better rest because if they didn’t sleep early, then they basically sat in the dark. For this reason, insomnia was almost non-existent. Now, with the help of technology such as cell phones, tablets, and light bulbs, we face bigger issues. Let’s look at some factual numbers to get a better idea:
- The number of clinics treating sleep disorders have risen 12% in 3 years (2008-2011).
- Sleep-deprived drivers cause an estimated 1,550 accidents in the United States per year.
- Accidents related to insomnia while in the work place total $31.1 billion in medical costs annually.
Two Things That Interrupt Sleep Patterns:
1. Light Exposure – Light exposure during the evenings disrupts our ability to get a good night’s sleep, and numerous studies prove this to be a factual statement. Blue light is dubbed to be nearly 2 times worse than any other light exposure, LED lights coming in second, which are found behind the screens for cell phones, televisions, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.
Some common effects of light exposure:•
•Throws off our internal clock by tricking our bodies into thinking it is daytime
•Prevents you from sleeping when your body is ready to
•Inhibits the production of melatonin, hampering your ability to fall asleep
2. Cell Phone Usage and Location – Cell phone usage before bedtime has negative effects on your body, and placing it next to your body during rest is possibly ruining your sleep patterns even further. Researchers at OSU University found that students have bad sleeping patterns because of using their cell phones to watch videos and connect via social media networks, which causes them to stay awake longer than necessary.
Other research shows that teenagers and younger adults commonly have insomnia because they always make themselves available —if somebody calls, texts, or emails they feel an obligation to talk with the sender until they are ready to sleep as well.
Some common side effects of cell phones:
•Cell phones on the night stand may disrupt brain patterns due to radio frequencies
•Use before rest causes changes in our circadian rhythm
•Light emitted from cell phones when receiving messages, etc. during rest affect brain patterns, and/or cause you to wake up from a sound sleep
Here are some suggestions to help you sleep a little better in the evenings. Give them a try and see how much your sleeping patterns improve. You might be surprised at the results!
- Place cell phones on silent (no vibration) and place them across the room
- Keep evening exposure to yellow light as opposed to LED and blue lighting
- Limit the use of devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops prior to rest
- Disable any light sources by 10:30 p.m. and lay down for rest
- Tell your friends not to contact you during times of rest unless it’s an emergency
- Attempt to fall asleep and wake up at the same time daily
- Avoid caffeine within 6 hours of rest
You have the information you need to get a good night’s sleep. Always try to limit any technology use within two hours of rest and you will begin to see better results and possibly disrupt insomnia.
Written by Mike Wines
About the Author: Mike Wines is a strength and conditioning coach and content editor for Muscle & Strength. He received his B.S. in exercise science from the University of South Carolina and seeks to combine personal experience with practical application to provide programming- and movement-based solutions to match each individual’s goals.