1. Sleep Patterns
2. Sleep Cycle
3. How Devices Affect Sleep
4. Tips for Better Sleep
Sleeping is a huge part of everyone’s life, but do you know how much time you spend sleeping? If the average person lives up to be 79 years old, they spend roughly 26 years sleeping! Since we spend a good chunk of our lives sleeping, here are some facts about sleep you probably didn’t know and tips on how to get better sleep!
Depending on your age, your sleep patterns, and the required amount of sleep you need changes. Here is a breakdown of the amount of sleep you should be getting depending on age:
• Infants (1 year and under): 12 to 16 hours
• Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours
• Preschool (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours
• School Age (6-12 years): 9 to 12 hours
• Teenagers (13-18 years): 8 to 10 hours
• Adult (18-60): Minimum of 7 hours
• Senior (61 and older): 7-9 hours
In this age of technology, we seem to be surrounded by it. Whether it’s our smartphones, tablets, laptops, television, etc. it seems almost impossible to get away from them! While technology has become part of our everyday lives and is helpful in many ways, it can also be harmful, especially to our sleep cycle.
The human sleep cycle follows a 24-hour sleep-wake pattern. When the sun rises in the morning, our body produces cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that makes us feel awake and alert. As the sun starts going down and the light fades, our body releases melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that produces feelings of sleepiness. However, our devices can offset our sleep-wake cycle and affect our sleep quality.
How Devices Affect Sleep
Electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. emit short-wavelength light, also known as blue light. Blue light reduces and delays the natural production of melatonin in your body and reduces the amount of time you spend in REM sleep. REM sleep is one of the most important parts of the sleep cycle that are vital for our cognitive functions. Blue light is also harmful to the eyes and can cause retina damage if not careful. Because of the harm that blue light can cause to our natural cycles, using these devices in bed should be avoided. However, studies show that 4 out of 10 Americans take their phone into bed with them, and this average spikes in teenagers.
Our devices affect our sleep more than we think. The use of these devices prevents us from falling asleep. Because of the blue light that these devices emit, our bodies production of melatonin slows down, especially when using them before bed. Falling asleep is hard if your brain is overstimulated, which is why falling asleep right after using these devices becomes difficult.
Tips for Better Sleep
Even though it is hard to avoid using our everyday devices, there are ways to make their impact less harmful. Here are a few tips:
• If you have to use a device at night, lower the brightness to reduce the blue light exposure. This will make it easier to fall asleep.
• Buy blue light glasses. These glasses block blue light to reduce eye fatigue, blurred vision, and headaches. These are especially helpful if you work on a computer.
• Discontinue using electronics at least an hour before going to bed to avoid the over-stimulation of your brain to make falling asleep easier.
• Develop a nighttime routine without devices. Try reading a book, taking a bath, or doing other relaxing activities before bed.
• Children and teens are more sensitive to blue light because their eyes let more light in. Consider limiting screen time during the evening to protect their eyes and to help their sleep routine.