Sleep Apnea

How screen time habits can harm your sleep


Screen time has become a normalised part of our wind-down routines. The average Aussie home now has 6.6 devices for consuming content.

You might be someone who relaxes by sitting on the couch, scrolling through your social media news feed. You may enjoy watching a show on the tablet or TV before bed. You could be an avid gamer. Or perhaps you’re an office worker who prefers to catch up on emails after dinner.

Many of us are guilty of putting off bedtime to continue watching, scrolling, emailing, messaging or playing on our devices. If you often tell yourself “just one more” episode or game before bed—chances are it’s time to review your wind-down screen time habits.

Combined with a balanced diet and exercise, sleep is essential to staying healthy and happy. But becoming absorbed in our screens and delaying sleep is tempting with so much content at our fingertips. The bright light from our screens can also increase our alertness. Stimulating content can make us less ready for sleep too.

Let’s look at the science

Research tells us that using bright screens before bed can impact the hormone melatonin that makes you sleepy. Just 1.5 hours or more of screen time on the tablet or laptop reduces your feeling of sleepiness. Repeated use can reset your body clock where you will want to go to bed later and sleep in longer.

All this leads to less sleep and more tiredness during the day.

But rest easy! With a few simple tips, you’ll be on your way to a better slumber.

1. It’s all about the mood lighting 

Studies show that certain levels of indoor light can suppress melatonin production. Simply dimming or turning off your ceiling lights before bed can help here.

Artificial blue light from devices, such as phones, computer screens and TVs, can also affect your sleep by disrupting your circadian rhythm. You can reduce the impact of blue light by dimming your device’s screen or by adding a screen filter. Many smartphones have a night mode option that reduces the blue light emitted. Investing in blue light glasses can also help reduce your exposure while using devices.

2.  Give yourself a curfew

Ditch your devices at least one hour pre-bedtime to give your mind and body the time to wind down before sleep. If you think you might lack the necessary self-control, consider getting a mobile phone “gaol” to lock your phone away.

If you’re a bit of a social media junkie, consider downloading an app or setting a control on your phone that will limit your use of certain apps. You can also set notifications on your screen time usage. For the binge-watcher, you can set an automatic sleep timer on your TV to resist the urge to keep watching those enticing cliffhanger episodes.

3. Keep your tech out of bed

Save the bedroom for sleep and sex. This way, you’ll only associate your bed with these activities. Avoid the temptation to spend hours scrolling through Tik Tok videos by leaving your phone and tablet in another room and getting yourself an old-school alarm clock.

Reading a book in bed can also encourage you to stay awake if it’s a real page-turner. In this case, we’d suggest it’s best to take your book to a separate room before bed.

4. Find a screen substitute

Speaking of books, think about switching from a screen to a printed book to help you relax before bed. Listening to soft and slow music or meditation apps can also help you clear your thoughts and create a sense of calmness before bed.

5. Establish a regular bedtime routine

Build a bedtime schedule and stick to it. This one’s a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s essential to create a routine that doesn’t involve screen time, such as checking messages or newsfeeds.

Bedtime should be the same time every night. You may want to try relaxing activities such as taking a bath or completing a few muscle strengthening exercises as part of your wind-down routine.

If you’re still not feeling energised, try our quick free sleep assessment to better understand how to improve your sleep and overall health.

Sleeping problems? Find out why here.

Our online sleep assessment gets to the bottom of your sleeping issues and offers solutions.


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