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Why screens sabotage your sleep ?

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Since the dawn of time, the natural succession of day and night has orchestrated our sleep cycles and preserved the balance of our circadian rhythms. However, the emergence of electric lighting at the end of the 19th century and the omnipresence of luminous devices profoundly altered this millennial harmony.

Nowadays, we are subjected to an incessant flow of artificial light (especially from screens), thus disrupting our internal biological clock and affecting our overall health. In order to understand the repercussions of this permanent exposure and to consider solutions, it is necessary to examine in depth the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.

The impact of light on our body

Daytime light, particularly in the morning, is beneficial for our cardiovascular system, our mental health and our ability to fall asleep at night. A fact underlined by Phyllis C. Zee, director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University (Evanston, in the state of Illinois in the United States).

Conversely, once night falls, exposure to artificial lights is associated with higher risks of obesity, metabolic disorders and impaired sleep quality. Zee insists: “The importance of light is undeniable, but its moment of exposure is just as important< /em> ”.

This duality can be explained by two main factors. On the one hand, light has a stimulating effect, potentially problematic during the falling asleep phase. On the other hand, natural morning light contains short wavelengths of blue and green, beneficial for sleep, but only when they are perceived upon waking. On the other hand, blue and green emissions emanating from our electronic devices disrupt our circadian rhythms when they are captured in the evening.

The influence of screens

The screens of our devices – smartphones, tablets and televisions – emit blue light of particular intensity. This radiation directly interferes with our secretion of melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone. By penetrating the retina of our eyes, it stimulates a type of photosensitive cell. These send signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a region of the hypothalamus that acts as our master biological clock. Normally, as night falls, the reduction in natural light reduces the stimulation of these cells, which triggers the production of melatonin by the pineal gland.

Christopher S. Colwell, a distinguished neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles explains: “ Their only function is to inform our circadian clock about the day-night alternation. And this mechanism turns out to be particularly sensitive to blue and green wavelengths “.

When l’ #8217;we expose our body to blue light in the evening, this process is disrupted and this somehow causes our brain to bug. The signals sent to it make it believe that it is still daytime, thus delaying or reducing the production of melatonin. Result: our body does not adequately prepare for sleep.

In the evening, it is therefore important to limit exposure to this radiation to promote the release of melatonin. Zee recommends replacing traditional night lights with red or amber lighting, which is less disruptive to sleep. Most modern smartphones natively integrate a blue light filtering display mode, which can be activated at will. On PC, several free software programs do the same, such as f.lux, downloadable here. Another benefit of reducing blue light from screens: reduce visual fatigue.

Solutions for better sleep

To counteract the deleterious impact of screens on our sleep, various strategies are available to us. Installing blackout curtains and wearing sleep masks can effectively neutralize unwanted light sources at night. If you can't do without your favorite series in the evening and you watch it on a television, try to maintain a distance of at least two meters from the screen, in order to avoid viewing. reduce the intensity of the perceived luminous flux.

Other even more effective strategies: adopting a bedtime ritual devoid of screens (yes, it ;#8217;is sometimes complicated). Reading a good paper book, a comic book, listening to a podcast or a few minutes of breathing exercises or meditation won't help you will never hurt, I promise! These habits can help signal to your body the imminence of the moment of relaxation and preparation for sleep. As J. R. R. Tolkien wrote in his fabulous work The Hobbit in 1937: “ A a little sleep restores you from many things.” Very wise advice.

    < li>Artificial lighting and screens disrupt our body clock and affect our sleep.
  • Blue light from screens interferes with the production of melatonin, delaying the production of melatonin. #8217;falling asleep.
  • Limiting exposure to screens in the evening and adopting screen-free routines improves sleep quality.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116