Sleep Disorder is a 21st Century Disease – Here’s What’s Keeping You Up

So, you have your pajamas on, you lay comfortably in your bed, and have your smartphone for one last scroll on social media. Yet, it seems that you can’t fall asleep, right? Well, sorry to say that, but the moment you took your phone with you in bed, you doomed yourself to a sleepless night, according to a study led by researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

A recent study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine points out that social messaging, web, surfing, and TV or movie watching are linked to insomnia and depressive symptoms. The study also found higher rates of depressive symptoms among teens due to the prolonged use of screen-based activities. And, these activities also interfere with high-quality restorative sleep.

Additionally, another research on sleep medicine confirms the study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The study from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has discovered that our sleep may be affected by exposure to the blue light of the screens. Researchers point out that the light-sensitive cells in the eye can affect our internal clock when exposed to blue light from screens for a long time.

Let’s take a look at how is blue light affecting our sleep, what the consequences are, and the solutions for this modern disease.

A 21st-century disease

Since you are surrounded by screens these days, be it your TV, smartphone or computer, you may not realize that it wasn’t always this way for previous generations. For us, staring at a screen most of the day isn’t uncommon.

Whether we work on the computer, catch up with our friends on social media or watch our favorite TV series all night long, for us, screen-based activities are just as normal as breathing. Now, thanks to portable technologies we all have these days, the possibility to be absorbed in screen time, during the day or the night, has never been greater.

But how does prolonged screen-use cause disruptions to our sleep? Specialists explain the body has an internal clock that follows a 24-hour day and night pattern. This internal clock we all have is also known as the sleep-wake cycle. Put, it represents the sleep you get during the night and the awakened state of your mind and body during the day.

Yet, it seems that the artificial light from devices affect our circadian rhythms and has significant consequences on our overall health. Our internal clock is responsible for regulating wakefulness and sleepiness and does so based on how the ambient light is perceived by our brain.

So, it isn’t difficult to understand how your smartphone screen light can keep you up at night. The blue light from the screen confuses your brain, and internal clock, through the light-sensitive cells in your retina, into believing that it is daylight and that you should be awake.

Insomnia Explained

We’ve all had at least one sleepless night when we just couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard we tried. And, that shouldn’t be a reason to worry or a reason to diagnose yourself with insomnia or sleep disorder. It can happen for a number of reasons that usually go away on their own. However, if insomnia begins to keep you up consistently, it’s time to start digging deeper and find the reason behind your sleepless nights.

The National Sleep Foundation points out that insomnia can be caused both by psychiatric and medical conditions including unhealthy sleep habits, certain biological factors, or specific substances in the body (such as caffeine). Moreover, medical specialists have also started to explain insomnia as a problem with the brain being unable to rest. However, don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with your brain. Its inability to fall asleep is usually caused by external factors, such as screen light for example.

The first study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine included data from over 2000 teens. And, the researchers discovered two common insomnia symptoms: trouble falling asleep and problems staying asleep. Moreover, the study also discovered depressive symptoms had a direct connection with the quality of the sleep of the respondents.

Yet, fear not, no matter how many sleepless nights you’ve had in the past, here’s the good news: insomnia is treatable. And, not only treatable with medicines by a doctor, but you can also use some strategies to get quality sleep and forget about sleepless nights.

How to get quality sleep

There’s probably nothing more frustrating than being extremely tired but unable to fall asleep. To help with your sleep troubles, we gathered some of the best strategies to help you make lifestyle changes and get a good night’s sleep.

Avoid screens during the night

If you want to get a good night’s sleep, avoid using any device at least a couple of hours before going to bed. Instead, you can read a book, journal, or do anything that will keep you away from technology.

Sleeping environment

 The sleeping environment plays a major role in the quality of your sleep. The light, the sounds, the bed, and even the smell in your bedroom can affect your sleep quality. It should go without saying that you need to take any tech device out of the sleeping environment to eliminate noise and light while you are sleeping. Next, make sure you keep the bedroom clean to avoid any weird smell that might disturb you.

Yet, the most important aspect of your sleeping environment is sleeping in the right bed. The bed is your sleep sanctuary and you should pay more attention to it. First, start by reading reviews of high-quality mattresses. Then, choose the mattress that will help you sleep comfortably. Next, make sure you use a soft pillow that will give your head appropriate support to avoid spinal discomfort.

Exercise every day 

Exercising before going to bed has its pros and cons. Daily exercise has been shown to help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper, but exercising too close to bedtime can keep you awake and restless. To play it safe, time your workouts at least four hours before sleep.