The modern world is one where most of us are completely immersed in technology, even when we’re asleep. However, while there is little doubt regarding the benefits of technology, it’s almost important to remember that it’s a curse at the same time. In fact, smartphones have already earned a bad reputation in recent years among medical professionals due to their radiation emissions potentially increasing the risks of cancer and other ailments. Unfortunately, recent studies have also shown that smartphones, among other electronics, might also be stopping us from getting a good night’s sleep.
Electronics, such as smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, emit a blue light that the photoreceptors in our brains confuse for being daylight. This in turn reduces the production of melatonin, an important sleep-inducing hormone. In other words, the light from electronic devices fools our biological clocks into staying up to such an extent that we get fewer hours of deep sleep and more instances of daytime sleepiness. Studies have shown that younger people are the worst affected, which shouldn’t some as a surprise considering that 90% of 18- to 29-year-olds sleep with their smartphones, according to Web MD. Additionally, almost two thirds of people are not getting enough sleep, making a clear correlation between the two statistics.
Smartphones might be enormously useful things to have, since they can do so much more than just make and receive calls and messages. In fact, they’ve largely made the desktop or laptop computer irrelevant in everyday life, since most millennials don’t need any other device for browsing the Web, checking emails or checking their social media profiles. Most people who own smartphones also use them as alarm clocks, making it extremely easy to check email or Facebook one last time before getting to sleep or the moment they wake up. While it might seem convenient to have such abilities at your fingertips, it also means that it’s virtually impossible to get unplugged from work, social media and other commitments and addictions.
Many smartphone manufacturers and app developers seem to be determined to make the situation even worse. The Facebook smartphone app, for example, will happily wake you up in the middle of the night if someone sends you a message, unless you think to turn off alerts for a period of eight hours or mute the phone and disable vibrate. After all, most people do not get around to setting limits on their night-time availability. In other words, the world of social media and email sometimes seems to be hell-bent on making sure you’re completely sucked in 24 hours per day without giving a second thought to your physical and psychological wellbeing.
Fortunately, the solution to the problem is, in theory, very simple. All electronic devices should be turned off at least half an hour before going to bed and, preferably, left in another room. However, for many younger people, technology has become an addiction, and it is the addiction itself that needs to be addressed before anything else. Parents should also take note, since they are often guilty of encouraging bad sleeping habits through excessive tolerance of technology.