Stop sabotaging your sleep with smartphones

Stop sabotaging your sleep with smartphones



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's 10:45 p.m. and you've climbed into bed, ready to get some shut eye after a long day. However, you pick up your smartphone to check one more thing before actually committing to sleep.

Quickly, that one thing turns into an email you forgot to respond to or a few rounds of "Angry Birds" you were meaning to play. Soon, you've watched the latest episode of "The Walking Dead" on Hulu and it's 12:15 a.m. That "one last thing" has now turned into a mess and you can't even remember what started the night's decline into nothingness.

If this sound familiar, you're not alone; apparently you've got a lot of company.

In fact, 95 percent of surveyed adults report using an electronic device an hour before going to bed. Many simply browse the Internet, text, play video games or watch TV.

It's a routine many Americans have grown accustomed to on a nightly basis — checking their smartphones, tablets, laptops or TV right before bedtime — but it may be destroying your health and a good night of sleep.

Sleep experts say the light emitted from an electronic device negatively impacts your ability to sleep at night by suppressing the hormone melatonin — a chemical released to help you sleep. Using electronic devices for two hours will suppress melatonin levels by approximately 22 percent.

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That typically means a bad night's sleep. Regular consumption of electronic devices before going to bed also lead to stress and depression problems. However, that doesn't seem to stop a majority of Americans who rely upon their digital devices.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, approximately 65 percent of Americans struggle to give up the phone at bedtime, keeping it close by. Of respondents who said they keep their phone close by, approximately 90 percent of 18-29 year olds sleep with their phone right by the bed.

Several respondents (10%) said they were awakened in the night by text messages, emails or phone calls.

Despite sleep being interrupted by electronic device, Americans continue to increase their use. In fact, many are buying more digital devices instead of turning them off for a good night sleep.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism found that Americans are increasing their ownership of digital devices, with approximately 77 percent of Americans owning a laptop or desktop computer. The study also found that 44 percent of Americans own a smartphone, with 18 percent who own a tablet computer.

Researchers surveyed more than 3,000 American adults, finding that many digital users are gravitating to more than one device. Of the 77 percent of laptop and desktop computer owners, 52 percent also own a smartphone, while 23 percent also own a tablet. And 13 percent of the respondents own all three devices.

Simply, if you want a good night's sleep, turn off your digital devices. "Angry Birds" can wait for another time, and I doubt all of your emails and text messages are pressing at midnight. Sometimes letting go is the best thing (I will try if you do).

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Josh Furlong

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