A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

How electronics impact your sleep: 3 ways to sleep better

A woman looks are her phone in bed. Electronics sleep

Using electronics before going to sleep may be hard to avoid, but it can also have negative impacts on your overall health.

A good night’s sleep plays an important role in your health even in ways you may not expect.

“Lack of proper sleep leads to a lot more than just feeling tired,” said Kelly Aue, Marshfield Clinic Health System Sleep Medicine nurse practitioner. “It can impair your concentration and focus when driving, increase your anxiety and depression, and have a negative impact on many parts of your body including brain and heart health.”

One factor that has contributed to how we sleep is technology. Our digital devices have given us more tools than ever before — but that comes with serious risks and roadblocks.

Be aware of apps and trackers

A growing number of mobile applications are available for people struggling to sleep. From apps that play soothing background music and nature sounds to those that allow you to keep a sleep diary, this technology can help deal with insomnia in a variety of ways. However, there are some apps you should be wary of.

Fitness trackers and their corresponding apps that monitor your sleep should be used with caution. “These apps often will just monitor your movement and won’t account for your different sleep cycles,” she said. “At times, these sleep monitoring apps can even be a negative, because people will be more focused on what the data says rather than whether they feel rested.”

Distance yourself from phones and tablets

Phones, tablets and other electronic devices are becoming more and more prevalent in our everyday life. With their convenience and portability, it has been commonplace to scroll through our favorite websites or social media feeds before calling it a night. But, when it comes to establishing a proper sleep routine — one of the best things you can do is leave those devices in a different room.

“Using electronics delays the release of melatonin from the brain to signal the body that it’s time for sleep,” Aue said. “This makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.”

Aue recommends turning off your devices at least 30-60 minutes before going to sleep and leaving them in a different room. This helps ensure the room you sleep in stays dark and quiet throughout the night.

Stay consistent with your family

Avoiding electronics at night before going to sleep may be difficult, especially for children, but once you make it a part of your daily routine it’s all about sticking to it.

“Overall, I stress creating a steady routine that promotes the best sleep environment possible with each patient,” Aue said.

For more on sleep routines and environments, click here.

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