HIBBING — While most of us enjoy how daylight hours get longer and longer, do you know how that light affects your sleep?
Darkness is what tells your body to go to bed, according to Diane Blight, registered sleep technologist at Fairview Range.
“Darkness triggers the release of a chemical called melatonin in your system, and this tells your brain that it is time to sleep,” she explained. “So when the sun goes down later, the release of melatonin is also later.”
For many of us, nighttime is a time to go over the social media streams we have missed throughout the day or cozy up to a new movie. Yet these devices have the same impact as daylight on sleeping habits.
“The same thing is true of the light from the devices that we have become so dependent on,” Blight said. “Light from tablets, computers and cell phones will trigger the brain to stay awake for up to three hours after they are turned off.”
Those who are most impacted by this artificial light are children.
Blight cited a recent study performed with kids 11 to 13 years of age which found that those who were using these devices achieved less sleep than those who did not.
“The ones who were using these devices up until bedtime got about one hour less sleep on school nights as the kids who were restricted from those devices in the evening,” Blight said.
If that doesn’t seem like much, even an hour can have an impact on your or your child’s performance the following day.
“Studies have also shown that even the loss of one hour of sleep has a negative effect on school performance by impeding memory and making it more difficult to solve problems,” Blight said.
It’s better to spend an extra hour asleep in bed than another hour paging through the many enticing applications on a phone, she added.