Sleep Problems? Time to Unplug


Why screen time right before bed disrupts your circadian rhythm (and how to fix it)

Sleep problems? Time to unplug

Do you look at your phone before going to bed? Nine out of ten smartphone owners do. Do you sleep through the night and wake up refreshed? Most people who are plugged into their devices right before sleep don't.

Why screen time before bed = trouble sleeping

One reason people plugged into the internet at bedtime don't sleep well is due to the stimulation your brain receives, which is exactly what you don't need right before you go to sleep. Another reason is if you become stressed by something you see online at bedtime, your body produces cortisol, which is a stress hormone. This is a real sleep buster.

Melatonin’s role and the circadian rhythm

Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone our bodies make, and our brains do not produce it when the light from a tech device passes through the retina and messages the brain. If you stay up for consecutive nights due to tech use, your circadian rhythm (or, your “body clock”) can become disrupted and delayed sleep phase syndrome sets in.

Improve your sleep tonight

One way to improve sleep is to not allow technology into your bedroom. Nothing should occur in your bedroom other than sleep. This means no T.V. watching or Kindle reading at bedtime. This can be a challenge if it’s a habit, but it will be worth it to change because all of these activities result in interrupted sleep patterns. At night when we are sleeping, is when our brain heals from the stress of the day.

If we don't get adequate sleep to restore our brain to the calm state, then we will experience anxiety the next day.

We know that the best way to get sleep is to disconnect from devices before bedtime. Staying up at night is one of the fastest growing disrupters of sleep. Our health suffers if we give up sleep to surf the web. When sleep is lost, our daily functioning is impaired and relationships suffer. It can also diminish our abilities to function well at work, as well as put us at risk when driving drowsy.

Disconnect an hour before bedtime and get your brain into sleep mode. There are many benefits for us when we unplug.


Want more tips on sleeping better? Check out our sleep guide, get ideas from our caring community, or reach out to an online therapist today for more advice.


Lori Whatley, LMFT, PsyD

Dr. Lori is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in relational connecting.

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