Need sleep? Put your smartphone down earlier

‘I thought I was depressed I was that tired’

Sleep deprivation can often be the result of looking at a screen that gives off blue light.
Sleep deprivation can often be the result of looking at a screen that gives off blue light. Photo Illustration. Ella Burke/Kicker

Ella Burke,
Kicker News 

A wave of guilt spreads through the body as the clock turns over to 3 a.m.

“It’ll be okay,” you lie to yourself “There’s still three hours before the alarm goes off.”

Yet, you continue to scroll through your Facebook timeline. Before you know it, the sun is up, and you’re now more exhausted than before you went to bed.

On Wednesday night at the Block NL, sleep consultant Dana King-Murrin provided a presentation for women on why lack of sleep is such a common issue . The Block NL is a space on Water St. where businesswomen can gather to collaborate and encourage each other.

“We spend a third of our lives asleep,” said King-Murrin. “So (sleep) has to be more than just this stealer of time.”

More often than not a good night’s rest is sacrificed in order to complete daily tasks. But according to King-Murrin, this doesn’t do anyone any favours.

It’s a well-known fact that sleep is needed in order for the body to function properly. However, few actually understand why.

Putting away your screen even just an hour before you go to bed will make a difference in the quality of your sleep
Putting away your screen even just an hour before you go to bed will make a difference in the quality of your sleep. Ella Burke/Kicker

King-Murrin says throughout the day our bodies build up toxic proteins. There is only one way to filter out these toxins: sleep. This filtering process takes roughly eight hours, which is why eight hours is the recommended amount of sleep adults get.

“We’ve evolved based on a very predictable light and dark schedule,” said King-Murrin.

Light is the most important thing that influences our bodies’ natural clock, King-Murrin says. Exposure to natural light encourages the production of the hormone cortisol, which is nature’s built-in alarm system. Towards the end of the day as the sun goes down, the amount of cortisol being made by the body lowers and the melatonin hormone starts to be produced.

“By getting more exposure to sunlight and natural light in the day, the tempo is set for the natural cortisol-melatonin rhythm,” said King-Murrin.

Studies show that one of the biggest contributors to lack of sleep is exposure screens before bedtime. Phone, tablet and laptop screens all emit a blue light. This stimulating light causes melatonin suppression and increases cortisol production.

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Murrin says that if you must be on your phone, tablet or laptop, it is best to stay away from content that is triggering and/or stimulating. Ella Burke/Kicker

Caffeine is also another factor. It shouldn’t be consumed any later than six hours before bed, according to Murrin. She said it’s a good idea to stay away from coffee, tea, chocolate and other items that contain caffeine after 3 p.m.

“The highest quality of sleep happens when we can get ourselves to sleep between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.” said King-Murrin. “The optimal sleep time is between 10 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.”

Melanie Crocker, owner of The Block NL, says she thought she was dealing with bigger issues. Turns out, she was just exhausted.

“I thought I was depressed I was that tired,” said Crocker.

King-Murrin had a few other pointers to help promote the best night’s rest possible:

  • Create a comfortable bedroom space that encourages sleep.
  • Physically activity helps massively with hormone regulation.
  • Don’t use screens the produce blue light before bed.
  • If you can’t seem to put screen down, pay attention to the content being viewed. Try and stay away from subject matters that are stimulating.
  • Find ways to calm inner chatter and anxieties.
  • Commit to getting good sleep.

“Our bodies are designed to spend a third of our days, and therefore a third of our lives sleeping,” said King-Murrin. “It can’t be for nothing, because I think we are way too smart for that.”

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