Social media is a powerful agent for making relationships and cultivating connections, but when it comes to sleep, the side effects are reason for concern.
As studies have shown, high levels of social media use is linked with sleep issues, such as difficulty falling asleep, poor quality of sleep, and fewer hours of sleep each night. Over time, social media can cause serious damage on your physical, mental, and emotional health by preventing you from getting the proper amount of shut-eye.
Read on to discover how social media use can rob you of a good night’s sleep, and how to prevent that from happening.
How does social media use affect sleep?
Spending too much time on your phone or computer can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms. As natural light levels decrease towards the end of the day, our brains naturally produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our cycles of sleeping and waking. Using electronic devices disrupt this cycle, as the blue light from screens suppresses melatonin production. This unnatural illumination tricks the brain into thinking it is still daylight, ultimately delaying sleep as a result.
Social media can also get you too worked up to fall asleep. Spending time on social media can often be an emotional ride, spiking feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as, scattering attention. With an endless flow of stimuli on your feed, it can be hard to disengage from your device and settle down to sleep. The cognitive and emotional arousal from social media keeps us feeling keyed up, hindering the ability to fall asleep.
What are some ways to get sleep back on track?
Social media can be a hard addiction to kick, but there are plenty of tips and tricks to get you on your way.
While a cold turkey detox may work for some, others might find themselves better served by slowly cutting out long hours on social media. Try turning off using social media as it gets late. A good rule of thumb is to wind down your phone time at least two hours, or a minimum of half an hour, before bedtime. If you can’t bring yourself to quit the habit of using social media before bed, at least try to engage with it in a more active form. Go for photo-sharing platforms that you can scroll through passively, and try to avoid potentially emotional material like the news.
Another option is to make the technology work for you. Go into your settings and place your phone on airplane mode to limit potential distractions, or switching off notifications and message alerts that could wake you up in the middle of the night. You can also block the blue light from your screen by installing an app that gives your screen an orange or yellow tint instead. These colors have less of an effect on the body’s internal clock, setting you up for a better night of rest.