“Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep” is what the National Sleep Foundation discovered in a study conducted towards probably the most important function of the body – sleep!
We have all read and laughed over trolls that talk about the change in the importance we give to sleep as children and humansâ€¦ transitioning from fighting itâ€¦ to longing for it. Well, be it willing or unwilling, such is the case of sleep.
Popularly known as insomnia and caused by multiple medical/emotional contributors such as stress, anxiety, anger, trauma, grief, bipolar disorder and asthma, sleep plays a major role in the health of individuals irrespective of their age and gender. Sleep deprivation can lead to higher risk of chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, heart diseases and stroke.
Effects of Sleep deprivation
The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School throws light upon the innumerable benefits of giving your body the sleep it requires and also the repercussions of being deprived of these. Ranging from weight gain to diabetes to depletion of the immune system the list of its ill effects is as extensive as that of its benefits and extends far beyond keeping dark circles and cranky moods at bay.
Adequate sleep not only paves way for success through improved memory, creativity, and weight-management but has also been recognised for its contribution towards reducing the number of accidents (caused due to increased levels of stress).
Though deemed extremely important, this necessity, for most today has become a luxury thatâ€™s hard to find. An evil that is majorly responsible for this deprivation, apart from medical and psychological contributors is our faithful, friendly, and absolutely irresistible companion – technology.
The Daily Mail reports an average person spends 8 hours and 41 min on electronic devices, which is approximately 20 minutes more than the average night's sleep. We often hear of keeping ourselves away from gadgets 2-3 hours before bedtime and this is not without good reason, prolonged usage of smartphones and laptops is one of the greatest contributors to disturbed/irregular sleep.
The human body, has a mind of its own, when it comes to falling asleep. Sadly, this mind is naive and thus easily influenced by what the eyes see.
The sleep hormone – melatonin, found in our body allows us to sleep soundly. Exposure to light is a major influencing factor on the production of this hormone in our body. The bodyâ€™s natural mechanics allows it to respond to the light around it allowing melatonin production in the dark (which is supposed to be our natural surroundings at night).
Smartphones and laptops emit a disruptive blue light that alerts our brain and supresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, thus interfering with the bodyâ€™s natural sleep pattern. Hence increased usage of electronic devices directly translates to increased deprivation of sleep.
If you canâ€™t beat them, join them!
Given todayâ€™s scenario, the need for using electronic devices, surely seems unbeatable. Failing to curb the use of technology and realizing the essence of sleep in the lives of human beings, smart citizens of the world brought an old saying to practiceâ€¦ If you canâ€™t beat them, join them!
Thus joining hands with technology and the modern day gadget addiction, tech gurus have provided the world with an array of solutions that beat the sleep blues (quite literally). Awaiting the touch of our fingertips, we now have an array of apps that we can gladly be hooked onto while we continue spending time on our smartphone/laptop and be able to sleep like a baby. To name a few popular choices:
- F.lux – A free app available for Mac, Windows, Android, and other platforms, that warms up the computer display at night to match indoor lighting
- Twilight – An android app that automatically adjusts the deviceâ€™s brightness/color temperature according to the time of the day
- Iris – Strives to enhance productivity and sleep by reducing blue light emission from devices
- Sleep Cycle – An app for iOS that not only monitors user sleep pattern but also understands moments of deep and light sleep through microphones that assess our movements
Another set of alternatives to the sleep blues resulting from blue light is the use of filters and glasses that directly by standing between your eyes and the screen that you spend long hours with. Glarminy enlists a few of these and assesses their effectiveness:
- BluBlockers – True to their name, these sunglass-alike shades are known to dim down the effect of blue light on the eyes by up to 30%
- GUNNAR Optiks – Trendy and eye-catching these filters are said to reduce the strain caused to our eyes from blue light emission by up to 50%
- Uvex Fitovers – an inexpensive alternative to curb blue light strain while allowing overall transmission of light
- Reading Glasses ETC – providing protection to those that require a prescription number with a broad range of frames to choose from
In addition to these, we also have available other alternatives such as the sound of rain, waves, wind, birds, or all these collectively, that have long been known to soothe the mind and induce sleep. Mashable enlists a few popular paid and free apps that ease our minds and allow us to catch up on some sound sleep with ease.
From blue light filtering eye wear to apps that that give a detailed assessment of your activities, lifestyle and sleep, we now have a vast number of options open to us to choose from in order to gain a balanced sleep life.
With so much depending on our sleep, it undoubtedly is something that must not be overlooked or ignored. So pick what suits you best to beat those screen blues and sleep like a baby, that wakes up to go all out to lead and achieve bounties!