The Vicious Circle Of Technology And Sleep
Are you counting sheep every night and staying awake with the moon to greet the sun?
Morning blues? And, then dozing off every now and then. We all face this many times… I face this situation most of the time. Hardly do I wake up to a “good” morning. Many people actually have sleeping disorders, while others cause these problems for themselves. And then all sorts of health issues creep up in the wrecked body. The soul too, needs that slumber… deprived of it; it will find no peace anywhere.
Studies suggest that it’s the technology that you are using, that’s keeping you awake. Using cellphones, lappies, other electronic devices etc etc etc late into the night or in the immediate hours before sleeping, are the culprits for your sleepless nights. This cause a chemical ‘locha’ in the brain and then our dear brain won’t let us sleep. So what’s this chemical locha all about…? It’s mainly about a hormone called Melatonin and photopigments called Melanopsin.
Melatonin and Melanopsin
It is a hormone secreted by pineal glands. Its job is to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Darkness signals the brain to produce more melatonin which then signals the brain to prepare the body for sleep. Exposure to light causes decreases in the production of melatonin, signaling the body to stay awake.
It is a photopigment, mainly proteins, contained in the Melanopsin retinal ganglion cells of the retina of the eyes. These are particularly sensitive to blue light. It sets off signals when struck by band of light in the narrow 400-480nm range. These signals travel through the optic nerves to hypothalamus and cause the melatonin production to be turned off and delayed by many hours. This causes the inability to sleep and keeps you tossing and turning. Now the obvious question is :
Where does technology appear in the whole story?
The ‘blue light’ mentioned above is found in the display of cell phones, ipads, computers, LCDs, CFL and LED bulbs etc. This blue light interferes with our circadian sleep wake cycle and gives us sleepless nights.
The darkness of the night signals the body to produce melatonin which will make you fall asleep. But this blue light signals the brain to do just the opposite!!! It signals the brain to keep you awake… As such, this circadian sleep wake cycle gets disrupted badly.
Most of us use cell phones etc till the last waken moment (with the cell phones falling on our faces when we doze off in between). This causes us to stay awake, and since we are unable to sleep, we spent those hours and minutes doing nothing but wasting ourselves on the cell phones, lappies etc which further keeps us awake. This has become a vicious cycle; a complete diversion from circadian cycle.
What are the outcomes except for the ‘bad’ mornings and drowsy days?
A lack of sleep can instigate multiple problems. Topping the list is increased stress level. The other problems are obesity, depression, cognitive dysfunction, chronic diseases mood disorders and so on. It also causes disruption in the parts of the brain that deal in memory and emotional processing. Deteriorated performance at work, inability to focus and concentrate is another outcome. Dark under-eye circles and eye bags too become your chums.
Totally detrimental to our health!!!
What do we need to do to restore the circadian sleep wake cycle to normal?
- Decrease our exposure to the ‘blue light’ to the minimum, at least during the hours before we sleep.
- We should turn off the electronic gadgets that include our lappies and LED TVs too, pretty two hours before bedtime.
- Cell phones should also be avoided and preferably kept at a distance to avoid unnecessary usage.
- Read books to make yourself fall asleep. It will do no harm at all. Books are man’s best friends after all.
- Use red night lights in the bedroom for illumination; since red light has the lowest effect on melatonin production of all light wavelengths.
Making small but significant changes can surely help you get back the beauty sleep which you used to have in the days when there weren’t any cell phones; LEDs, lappies etc. and we used our books and novels to fall asleep.
Proper and regular sleep not only keeps you healthy from within but also keeps you looking pretty and glowing. If you’ve had adequate sleep you wouldn’t look like a dead man walking. You’d rather look fresh all time. Your brain will work at its best. No stupid mistakes at work. Everything will fall into its right place.
So, all you need to do is keep away your techno gadgets from your bedside!!! And Voila!!! You get your sound and beauty sleep.
Take care. Have a good sleep. 🙂
Are you going to push technology away for nights to enjoy a peaceful sleep?
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