by FIONA MACDONALD
We all know that checking our electronic devices before bed isn’t ideal for a good night’s sleep, but most of us do it anyway – because what better way is there to end your day than finding out what all your friends did? But now the video team over at Business Insider has investigated exactly what that behaviour is doing to our brains and bodies, and let’s just say we’re going to be making a much more concerted effort to keep smartphones out of the bedroom from now on.
The problem comes from the fact that your circadian rhythm, which determines when your body releases hormones, is controlled by light exposure, as psychiatrist Dan Siegel from the University of California, Los Angeles in the US tells Business Insider. So when you check your phone at night, it’s sending a stream of photons right into your eyes and telling your brain not to secrete melatonin – the hormone that makes you feel tired.
That means that you’re awake for longer, which, if you’re anything like us, probably results in you checking your phone for longer, and by the time your brain has finally had enough, it’s several hours past your desired sleep time. And when you have to wake up for work the next day. Do this consistently, and you’re missing out on a few hours of sleep every night.
Now, that might not sound so bad, but as Siegel explains above, researchers are just beginning to understand why sleep is so important. Not only does getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night let our active neurons rest, it also supports the glial cells that are crucial for cleaning up the neurotoxins that build up in our brains throughout the day. When we don’t get enough sleep, these glial cells can’t do their jobs, and we end up with impaired memories and attention spans.
And that’s not to mention what lack of sleep is doing to your metabolism. Watch the video above to find out more about the effects of smartphone use before bed, and what you can do to mitigate them. And don’t blame us next time you find yourself awake at 1am scrolling zombie-like through Facebook – you’ve been warned.
Thanks to Science Alert for this article