In a 2011 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 95% of respondents used some form of electronics at least a few nights a week within an hour before bed. More than half of 13-18 year olds reported surfing the internet before bed. Most of these technologies are stimulating and the artificial light can suppress our body’s sleep-promoting messengers, such as melatonin (1).
Our bodies are very sensitive to light. For centuries, we have risen and gone to bed with the sun. Our neurological and endocrine pathways are based on this system of light and dark. That is hardly the reality of today. Many of us have light long after the sun has gone down thanks to artificial light, and it can have damaging effects on our sleep.
Sleep is vitally important for concentration, learning, attention and memory. Take attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for example. A 2009 study published in Sleep Medicine, looked at 55 children diagnosed with ADHD. This study found a significant correlation between ADHD and sleep disorders, such as motor restlessness, sleep walking, night terrors, confusional arrousals, snoring and restless leg syndrome (2). Sleep and attention are significantly related to one another.
Whether you are still in school or not, consider preparing for this next academic year by shutting off the technology an hour before bed. Allow yourself to wind down by lower lights, enjoying a bath or shower, reading a non-stimulating book, meditating or praying, or doing a non-technological relaxing activity. Resist the urge to work or study right up until bedtime. You are worthy of the rest.
(2). Silvestri, et al. “Sleep disorders in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) recorded overnight by video-polysomnography.” Sleep Med. 2009 Dec;10(10):1132-8).