Are you aware the computer screen stimulates our cognitive processing? It does! And it has been scientifically proven that when the brain’s electrical activity increases the neurons start to race. I don’t know about you but I don’t want any part of my body racing right before bed time. I want to slow down, relax, and turn my mind off to any distractions.
I recently came to the realization that my adrenal glands are fatigued and my cortisol levels are not balanced. I’m not blaming this on electronics but when electronics accelerate our brain responses, the stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland, cortisol, is freed to produce anxiety; tension. How many of us think, “I’m ready for bed. How can I stress myself out and ensure a restless night of sleep? Better yet, bring on the insomnia!”?
Allow me to explain to you a bit of information about the hypothalamus. I learned this vocabulary word after my son, A.J.’s, severe traumatic brain injury. His sweet little brain was squished in about every direction which damaged his hypothalamus. One more reason he is a walking, talking, answered prayer. I referred to his hypothalamus as his, “Hippothalamus” just for fun.
Back to the hypothalamus: This area of the brain controls several sleep activities and delays the release of melatonin; a sleep-inducing hormone. When the blue light from the computer screen, or your tech gadget of choice, passes through the retina into the hippo the melatonin’s release is shut down.
Back to A.J.: He had a difficult time sleeping for several months after his accident because his hippo was not working properly during the healing process. His hippo is now healed!
As technology takes up more of our time; down to our last moments of the day, we are actually sleeping less and we are resetting our internal clocks. Our hippo isn’t relaxing when it’s processing is supposed to be slowing down and feeling weighty, creating heavy eyelids for bedtime.
As I have recently learned through the diagnosis of an auto-immune disease; a minimum of 6 hours uninterrupted sleep is essential to good emotional and physical health; and a total of 7-9 hours sleep achieved each night. Take good care of your brain chemistry and it will take care of your body.
Here are a few tips to unwind for restful sleep:
- Plan 15-30 minutes of technology free time before going to bed. Be old-fashioned: Read a paper book.
- Keep the bedroom free from all tech gadgets; including TV’s and iPods/MP3s.
- Keep the room as dark as possible. This contributes to increased melatonin production.
- Don’t set the snooze button to gradually wake-up. Use the alarm, once, and maximize sound sleep.
- Don’t use Tylenol PM to achieve sleep. Why? Read this Medical article. Plus, Tylenol PM causes irreversible memory loss.
- If you must use technology before bed buy a pair of amber blue light eye glasses and use them 1-3 hours before bedtime. These glasses filter/ eliminate the blue component of light and allow melatonin to naturally produce.