As Pokemon Go becomes a larger cultural phenomenon day by day, people seem to have another reason to stare at a screen. This got me thinking about the effects of screen time. A recent blog post outlined the benefits of getting outside during the day, but what about screen time at night?
Sleep hygiene refers to a set of recommended habits to follow in order to achieve good quality sleep. A 2012 prospective cohort study found that increased computer use at night was associated with losing sleep and poor mental health outcomes for both men and women (Thomée, Härenstam, & Hagberg, 2012).
For those with sleep difficulties, working from home or engaging in activities involving a computer or phone screen at night, here are some strategies you can try:
1) Abstain from screens at night. Keep TVs out of the bedroom. Record the amount of time you spend on a screen before bedtime and reduce it by a realistic amount. This involves good time management in order to schedule work earlier, and not falling asleep while watching TV. Good sleep hygiene recommends avoiding screens 1-2 hours before bedtime.
2) If you must use a screen at night, download a blue light filter for your computer and/or smartphone. F.lux is a free software for computers that adjusts the level of blue light in your screen (which your body associates with daytime and alertness). The screen colour becomes warmer (less blue light) at night in order to maintain a regular circadian rhythm. There are free apps for smartphones that have the same function.
3) Create a sleep routine which involving sleep-friendly activities. A sleep routine could involve a shower, relaxing tea, reading a book, mindfulness meditation, or yoga.
How much time do you spend on a screen at night? How does it affect your sleep and productivity? Try one of the above strategies to see how it affects your mood and sleep!
F.lux. Retrieved from https://justgetflux.com/
Thomée, S., Härenstam, A., & Hagberg, M. (2012). Computer use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults--a prospective cohort study. BMC Psychiatry, 12. Retrieved from http://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-12-176