Life Hack: How to Get Better Sleep
Spring forward, fall back. We’re approaching that time of year again that can throw our sleep schedules off for a few weeks. While the “fall back” season is usually easier than its counterpart, it’s still important to maintain regular sleep patterns. If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone; it’s one of the most common reasons people seek medical help. Today, I offer a little life hack for giving yourself the best chance at falling off to a lovely sleep, quickly and effortlessly. Are you ready? Here it is: cut out screen time in the evenings.
There’s a reason why screen time can be so hard on our sleep cycles. It all comes back to melatonin, our sleep hormone. (Don’t get melatonin confused with melanin, the pigment that determines our skin color—totally different thing.)
Melatonin is a neurotransmitter. When it works properly, it helps quiet our brain enough to fall asleep. Our brains start making melatonin when our environment gets dark, like at night. Screens emit a wavelength of light that disrupts the natural production of melatonin (compact fluorescent light bulbs do too, by the way). So, from a purely physiological perspective, avoiding screens for an hour before bedtime can give your body a chance to produce the melatonin you need to get to sleep.
Not to mention the content that’s often on the screens, such as emotionally disruptive scenes, late-night work, or FOMO feelings brought up by social media. In fact, there is a definitive link between night time social media use and anxiety in kids. While most of the research focuses on children and screen time, one can reason that this phenomenon is likely happening for adults too. So why not cut out the end-of-day screen time?
Here are a few more great ways to encourage a great night’s sleep as we “fall back” this Fall:
Avoid caffeine late in the day
Enjoy quiet time, reflection or meditation before bed
Sleep in total darkness, or wear something over your eyes at night
Go to bed at the same time every night
Avoid screen time for an hour before bed