Are you still on your smartphone in bed?
Smart phones have overtaken good old fashioned alarm clocks as the most popular method to wake us up in the morning. Handy as it is, this makes it even more tempting to check emails, browse social media or play games before going to sleep. But did you know that two or more hours of exposure to backlit devices such as tablets and smartphones, suppresses melatonin, which is the hormone to bring on sleepiness? This hormone naturally kicks in when the sun goes down and the body’s pineal gland becomes active and produces melatonin. However, electronic screened devices emit blue wavelengths (aka ‘blue light’ ) and this can throw the circadian rhythm out of sync as it prohibits the release of melatonin. Blue wavelengths are extremely beneficial to us during waking hours as they stimulate our moods, boost our attention span and reaction times but they are becoming increasingly more disruptive to our night times and sleep patterns.
Thanks to Youtube, anything you EVER needed to entertain a child (or an adult!) can be found on there at a drop of a hat…books, films and cartoons we’d never own in the physical world, there’s just too much. But stop and think about giving your children the iPad or Smartphone for ‘calm down’ time before bed, or even your teenager playing games in bed before sleeping, as you could be messing with their little body clocks. Growing children need quality sleep and ‘Junk Sleep’ is becoming more prolific with tween and teenagers. Not only that but parents of growing children need quality sleep and it appears that lack of sleep in general is becoming more and more common the more we are connected digitally to the non stop world around us.
Encourage other ways of calm down time for your children, whatever age they are. Fine motor skills activities are a great aid to relaxation for energetic preschoolers – think jigsaws, colouring in, puzzles, sticker books. Its an opportunity to take a break from the fast paced world we live in and slow it right down before bed.
The chances are you might be reading this in bed – there are some benefits to phones in bed! If you are, then I wish you sweet dreams and a very pleasant, re-energising sleep…now, time to turn that phone off.