Why you need to switch off to sleep well
PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 May 2018
It's important to switch off all your screens (TV, tablets, phones, the lot) at least an hour before you go to bed says clinical hypnotherapist Richard Cawte.
We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is crucial, but did you know that using screens close to bedtime (no matter what you are watching) reduces your chances of sleeping well?
There’s a reason for this; the images on our screens are continually moving and we are programmed to react.
Back when we were cave-dwellers, movement meant either a threat (think sabre-toothed tiger), or potential food (antelope, rabbit). When something moved, our bodies instantly switched to a state of alert and adrenalin was pumped around the system so that we were better able to run away from the tiger or chase the antelope.
The problem is that our environment has changed and we haven’t. There is a distinct shortage of tigers and antelopes in my neighbourhood, yet each of us still has this fight-or-flight response. And one of the things that regularly sets it off is spending time in front of a screen.
Why is this harmful? Because instead of running off the increased levels of adrenalin, we now sit on the sofa and this creates stress. In other words, screen-usage of any sort right before bedtime is going to wind you up, not help you wind down.
The solution is simple, although it may not be easy. Switch off all screens at least an hour before you go to bed. And definitely don’t take your devices to bed with you!
Disrupted sleep patterns affect our hormonal balance. During sleep, our bodies produce a substance called melatonin which acts as an antioxidant to clean the body of harmful free-radical compounds.
With less melatonin in the system, fewer free-radical compounds are dealt with.
This makes us more prone to depression and increases the chances that our cell DNA will produce cancer-causing mutations.
On top of this, disrupted sleep reduces the production of cortisol.
Cortisol helps regulate the immune system and boosts our internal ability to fight off cancer.
Do’s and Don’ts of: Getting a Good Night Do – Listen to the radio or some relaxing music. Don’t – Drink alcohol just before bed. Do – Have a warm bath and keep your bedroom relatively cool.
A Note for Parents
A group of Oxford University researchers have found that kids who have television sets or mobile devices in their bedrooms sleep less than those who do not. On average they are deprived of a whole month’s sleep per year. Lack of sleep in children can increase risks of poorly developed immune systems, ineffective metabolisms and clinical depression. And once a habit of lack of sleep has been adopted in childhood, it is likely to continue on into adulthood.
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