Take control of your screen time for a better night's sleep

Feel Good, Topics, What You Should Know

Social media and sleep don’t mix well. According to the Sleep Foundation, most Americans check their social media at least once a day and many continue to use social media close to bedtime. It seems like a harmless habit – scrolling through Facebook or Instagram just before bedtime -- but it can disrupt your sleep schedule, lower your quality of sleep and open the door to other sleep issues. 

Why does using social media keep you from getting a good night’s sleep?

Exposure to blue light
Use of electronics before bed can affect sleep through the stimulating effects of the light from digital screens. All light can interfere with your body’s sleep wake cycle. However, the blue light emitted from digital screens has the greatest impact on sleep. This light stimulates the part of the brain that makes us feel alert, leaving us energized and awake when we should be relaxed and winding down. Those who wake up to check their phone after falling asleep are at higher risk for losing sleep and developing a sleep disorder like insomnia.

Brain stimulation
Social media stimulates the brain. When it’s time to turn off the lights and go to sleep, the last thing your brain needs is more stimulation. Going to bed should be a comfortable, relaxing and peaceful experience. Checking your social media before or during bedtime can disrupt bedtime, leaving you with distracting feelings and thoughts or anxiety. Your mind remains active and engaged well after stimulation, which can leave you wide awake, staring at the ceiling.

If you are tempted to use social media at bedtime, Dr. Vasken Artinian, medical director for McLaren Port Huron’s Center for Sleep Medicine, offers these tips to take control of your social media use and get better sleep.

1. Screen-free time: Even though connecting with others through social media makes us feel good, we could all use a little time away. Try to give yourself a break from social media every day, especially before bedtime.
2. Silence alerts and notifications: Audio and visual alerts and notifications can wake you up at night, increase feelings of missing out and can lead to compulsive social media use. Turning off or silencing alerts at bedtime can help you sleep better.
3. Leave your phone and other electronic devices in a different room: This is one of the best ways to resist using social media at bedtime. 
4. Establish a bedtime routine: A bedtime routine is a set of relaxing activities that you perform just before bedtime. Routines vary, but including things like taking a warm bath, reading, listening to calming music or meditation can be helpful. Be sure to set a bedtime and stick to it every night. 

“Research shows that when people get the sleep they need, they will not only feel better, but will also increase their odds of living healthier, more productive lives,” says Dr. Artinian. 

Do you know how much sleep you need? Learn what the National Sleep Foundation recommends for you here.