Do you always fiddle with your phone in bed just before you sleep, and then later on realize that somehow, you just can’t settle in?
A lot of women may have the notion that reading social media threads before bed can help with getting sleepy, but the reality is actually the opposite. In the recent celebration of Sleep Day by Uratex, Dr. Keith Aguilera, Head of Comprehensive Sleep Disorders Center in St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City, explains that light is one of the main culprits that keeps you from sleeping on schedule.
“As human beings we are what we call diurnal organisms.” Diurnal, Dr. Keith explains, means being naturally awake during the day and asleep at night. “That’s really innate in us… Night falls, and automatically, we fall asleep.”
Being diurnal is caused by having an internal body clock called the circadian cycle, which triggers feelings of sleepiness when body temperature goes down and daylight disappears.
The issue with light and sleeplessness rises with the extension of working hours due to artificial light. What’s worse, we even go as far as triggering our own sleep deficiency by being on screened devices such as phones and computers long after our bodies have signaled for us to rest.
“Remember, one of the strongest [factors] for regulating our sleep is light. Every time you look at your phone, it actually prevents you from sleeping,” says Dr. Keith. While artificial light may make it hard for you to fall asleep, blue light, which screened devices produces, makes it even harder. “Blue light—of all the frequencies of light—is the strongest and keeps you awake at night.”
The effect? You become sleep deprived and you accumulate sleep debt, causing you to feel very tired at times you least expect to be.
"...it can even out-power the circadian rhythm. Even if your circadian rhythm tells you to wake up, you’ll fall asleep because you’re just tired. The more [sleep] debt you accumulate… [It] eventually [comes] to a point where it’s hard to resist ‘yong sleepiness.”
And sleepiness you can’t control can be very dangerous, as this can lower your “behavioral alertness and vigilant attention,” which can cause you to become less efficient at work, at home, and even more frightening, on the road.
The key is to keep away from your phones, computers, and television sets long before you settle in for the night. Better yet, keep your room dark and cool to help your circadian rhythm recognize that it’s time to rest. Don’t let constant connectivity keep you from allowing your body the relaxation that it needs and craves.