Maybe you’re catching up on work emails.
Maybe you’re texting your long-distance significant other “goodnight.”
Maybe you’re picking a podcast to put you to sleep.
Whatever you’re doing, there’s a good chance you’re sabotaging your sleep by using your smartphone in the few minutes before going to bed.
A growing body of research suggests that staring at the blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing the hormone melatonin, which lets your body know when it’s time to hit the hay. So it becomes harder to fall and stay asleep.
In fact, a recent study of nearly 850 Flemish adults found that using a mobile phone after turning the lights off was associated with worse sleep quality, more insomnia, and more symptoms of fatigue (though it’s unclear from this research whether using a phone directly causes sleep problems).
“People are exposing their eyes to this stream of photons from these objects that basically tells your brain, ‘Stay awake! It’s not time to go to sleep yet,'” Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, told Business Insider.
But parting with your smartphone is hardly easy to do – which is likely why 71% of Americans in one survey said they usually sleep with or next to it.
Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor of The Huffington Post, has managed to resist the siren call of her smartphone. As she writes in her book, “Thrive,” she’s banned electronics from the bedroom. Instead, she reads a hard copy book before going to sleep.
Still think you’re too busy, or too much a victim of FOMO, to unplug before bed?
Watch the video below, in which Dr. Siegel explains in detail why staring at a screen before bedtime can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule – and your overall health.