24 Healing Options for any Illness

Limiting Screen Use

One of the best (and easiest!) techniques to improve sleep is limiting the time you spend looking at televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets, and other electronic screens. Dozens of studies have been conducted on the subject, especially regarding how the use of such electronics affects sleep in young people. The conclusion from this research has been simple: spending long periods of time in front of screens - especially right before bed - leads to poorer sleep.

Screen time can impact sleep quality and quantity for a variety of reasons. The most obvious reason is that more time spent watching, browsing, etc. means less time available for sleep. Light also has a strong influence over the circadian rhythm. The body naturally slows down in response to low light levels, and bright light from screens can disrupt this process. The nature of what is happening on the screen can also play a role. Watching or doing something that makes you stressed, worked up, or otherwise active and alert can make it more difficult to fall asleep afterward.

Screens don't need to be avoided entirely to get a good night's sleep, but it's a good idea to stay away from them in the hour or two before you go to bed.

Scientific Studies:

A 2010 study investigated the relationship between intensity of computer use and the occurrence of insomnia in more than 2,000 high school students. The researchers found that those who suffered from insomnia reported being on their computers for longer periods of time than those who did not. The following year, a team of European scientists assessed cognitive performance, alertness, and melatonin levels (see a later section for information about the role of melatonin in the sleep cycle) in relation to exposure to various electronic screens. Assessments of 13 volunteers showed that the light emitted from the screens had notable impacts on all three measures.

In 2015, another study looked at the impact of time spent in front of a screen versus time spent sedentary (but not in front of a screen) on sleep. After reviewing survey data from more than 1,600 adults, the researchers found that while time spent sedentary did not have any visible impact on sleep, those who reported higher amounts of screen time were more likely to have trouble falling asleep and more likely to wake during the night.

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