Disconnecting to Get a Better Sleep

Melatonin Sleep

Recently, a Globe and Mail article set out the link between night-time smart-phone use, poor sleep, and sub-par work performance.  This comes as no surprise given the stimulating effects of our constant companions.

Conduct an experiment for yourself: compare how long it takes to nod off after reading an actual print book, compared to spending your last hour online.  I’ve found the difference is huge!

Here’s why:

  • The light from your phone, laptop or tablet suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep.
  • Interacting with social media, video games and other entertainment is exciting in ways even the most thrilling novel can’t be.  It’s visual, it’s auditory, it engages you to respond, triggering a feeling of alertness which may belie your real fatigue.
  • These devices are addictive. It’s just too easy to keep following links down the rabbit-hole, into the wee hours of the night.

So, what’s keeping you connected at night?

Maybe you feel like you need to be available 24-7.  But unless you’re one of those rare, irreplaceable people – like a heart surgeon – there’s quite a bit of noise you can filter out.  If you have an iphone, try the Do Not Disturb settings.  Set an automated VIP list, allowing only select contacts to get through at night.  

If you use your cell as an alarm, why not dial things back and invest in a real, old-fashioned alarm clock?  Look for one that does not glow in the dark, however.  Even small amounts of light exposure can suppress your melatonin production.

Next, turn your phone off a half hour or more before bedtime.  You might as well leave it charging in another room.  This minimizes your temptation, but also reduces the risk of nighttime exposure to radiation.

Then, get to work on creating a cave of a bedroom, conducive to a melatonin-rich sleep:

  • Hang light-blocking curtains (I’ve found these at Bed Bath & Beyond and Target)
  • Look for and eliminate any glowing or blinking devices.  Clocks, plugged in laptops, wi-fi routers, even humidifiers can emit light.  (I am stumped as to why the makers of our humidifier believe it needs to be lit up like a small planet, but I have taken the trouble to remove the bulbs.)

Once your room is perfectly dark, switch on a bedside lamp, and enjoy a mug of Natural Calm while disconnecting from that great web of wired activity!  This step is essential: magnesium is necessary for the activation of melatonin.

Note also that age, travel and shift-work can suppress our natural production of melatonin.  If you need to supplement, try our Heavenly Sleep melatonin, available online and through retailers across Canada.

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