Lying in bed with your smartphone, checking email, social media, chatting, playing games… sound familiar? For a whole lot of people, it’s a normal bedtime ritual.
Only a few people stop and think about whether this habit could have negative health effects. But it does and you should know the four most important ones:
1. It’s literally destroying your brain cells
Spending time on the phone before sleeping denies your gray matter the time it urgently needs to refresh. In the short term you might just notice that your memory isn’t quite what it was. Then your ability to concentrate will decline. And finally, your ability to solve problems and think clearly will be negatively affected.
2. It sends your brain the message: stay awake!
The bright quality of the light on the screen can lead to real problems falling asleep. That light causes your brain to suppress the sleeping hormone melatonin. (At the very least, it can be good to get an app that changes the light like this one.)
3. When the length and quality of your sleep declines, your physical health does too
The addictive habit of spending time on the smartphone before sleeping further affects our insulin production, which leads to increased appetite and often weight gain. This in turn can lead to feeling tired all the time. A pretty evil cycle.
4. You simply don’t sleep enough.
A logical consequence of looking at the phone before going to sleep is, of course, that you sleep less. But usually you still have to wake up at the same time, so… less total sleep. This leads to tiredness, irritability, and an ever-growing host of health problems.
Does this mean that you can never use your phone in bed before going to sleep? No, of course not. But there’s more and more evidence that it’s good for your health — and your looks! — to put the phone away an hour before bedtime. If that means buying an actual alarm clock, so be it! (My waistline is definitely worth it.)
What a perfect opportunity to pay a little more attention to whoever’s in bed with you, or read a good book, or do something we almost never allow ourselves anymore: just lie there, relax, and think about things.