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The Disadvantages Of Using Technology Before Sleep

Scientific research shows that using mobile devices such as your smartphone or tablet before going to bed will affect the quality of your sleep, and subsequently your level of alertness during the day.

Scientists writing in the BMC Neurological Journal Extensive have shown that just as natural light promotes wakefulness, red and blue electronic light emitted by electronic devices also keep the body awake.

Photovoltaic receptors in the eyes send signals to the hypothalamus section of the brain about when it is appropriate to go to sleep.

The brain regulates our circadian rhythms, which not only determine how much sleep the body needs, but also optimises our deep sleep cycle, which ensures that we wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Significantly, even a small mobile phone can disrupt this natural system.

This is especially critical for children and adolescents for whom sleep is essential for learning, mood, growth and creativity and weight control.

Unfortunately, many children now have televisions in their bedroom or take their mobile phones and devices to bed with them. This results in fewer total sleep hours and increases daytime sleepiness.

A more recent study conducted by the Lighting Research Centre  (LRC) found that using backlit displays - which are utilised by most phones, tablets and televisions - suppresses melatonin and reduces and disrupts sleep.

Sleep disturbances have been linked to increased risks for the development of medical conditions from obesity to diabetes, and even for an increased risk of breast cancer, in female night shift workers.

How You And Your Family
Can Get A Better Night's Rest

Spend some time relaxing, away from all devices, including the television for at least an hour before sleeping.

Introduce a strict light out policy for all children, confiscating their devices until morning if necessary. (Mentioning sleep disturbance links to obesity and diabetes may help you to persuade your children that this is a clever idea!)

Fully utilise your bedroom, which can be much more than just a room where you sleep and change your clothes.

Redesign your bedrooms to optimise your space for total relaxation and complete rest. A little investment of thought, energy and time into creating a restful and relaxing space for yourself and your partner will pay you back in immeasurable health dividends.

Declutter your bedrooms, so you are not distracted by activity reminders or work stress when you are in your bedroom. Storage beds with drawers are perfect for decluttering your bedroom and organising your possessions in a neat manner.  

Ensure you turn your kids mattress two to four times a year, and change it every eight years.

Pillows are as important as your mattress in giving your neck and head the correct support, so you can breathe more easily when you sleep. They also need to be changed at least once every 18 months, as they can harbour mould and fungi.

Invest in bedroom furniture where you can comfortably and slowly unwind from your day. The use of 3ft bed trundles are not just beneficial for guests, they can also be used as comfortable seats to lounge on whilst relaxing and can easily be stored under your bed.

Consider upholstered beds which can add a sense of luxury to your bedroom and encourage you to spend quality time with yourself in reflection of the day's events, or with your partner.

Since our sleep determines our health, we can optimise the quality of our sleep through reducing our reliance on electronic devices and ensuring a comfortable environment in which to relax and rest.

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