I have been considering recently the amount of time I spend in front of a screen at night time and how this might negatively impact my sleep. This was brought about after becoming restless one night before bed and sleeping poorly as a result. When I looked back, the most notable difference in my preparation for bed was the amount of screen time, and blue light I was exposing myself to. On top of the screen time, I spent an amount of time in the bathroom cleaning the ‘chompers’. This is done with the light on in one of the brightest rooms of the house!
When I did a little research into the topic, which is the focus of this week’s reading group, I found that the amount of light, or more specifically, blue light we are exposed to has the ability to reduce the amount of melatonin we produce, which helps our brains prepare for sleep. After discussing this with one of my colleagues, she sent me link from Business Insider UK that explains the impact more clearly. When you combine the information from this short clip with the evidence of sleep improving cognitive function (Brain Science Podcast with Penny Lewis) it is clear that sleep is vital for productivity and learning.
This got me thinking. If I am able to consciously control my use of technology and blue light exposure, then I am able to get a better sleep, but what if I was a teenager, exhibiting little self control and impulsive behaviour? Surely this would make it harder for me to take control of my screen time.
Here are my top 5 tips for reducing blue light exposure and getting a better sleep.
- Download an app or other program to reduce the blue light on your screen as the sun goes down. A couple of examples are, flux (desktop, laptop use) or Blue light Filter – Eye Care (Android and Apple Smartphones).
2. Turn your technology off, put it out of reach or leave it completely for up to 45 minutes before bed
3. Leave only lamp or dim lights on after dark, especially in the bathroom when preparing for bed
4. Drink a calming tea before bed like, Higher Living Evening Tea or camomile tea
5. Read for 20-30 minutes before bed
While most of us will naturally develop good routines for sleep, it is essential for our students to be conscious of good sleeping habits. Please share these techniques with your colleagues and students as I have. Most of the students who have taken them on board have found them helpful in gaining better sleep.