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How Screen Time Before Bed Harms Sleep Quality

How Screen Time Before Bed Harms Sleep Quality

By Movieguide® Contributor

A new study has uncovered the true impact social media scrolling before bed has on Americans’ sleep quality. 

“If you’re guilty of using your phone right before bed, you could be tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, thanks to the blue light your phone emits,” Mattress Next Day reported

The Sleep Foundation explained that the blue light given off by phones and laptop screens can “reduce or delay the natural production of melatonin in the evening and decrease feelings of sleepiness. Blue light can also reduce the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, two stages of the sleep cycle that are vital for cognitive functioning.”

The Mattress Next Day study found that most Americans spend time on messaging apps like WhatsApp and social media platforms like X, TikTok and Instagram before bed. 

“Despite there being lots of research showing that blue light can affect sleep, more than two-thirds of Americans admit to using phones, iPads and other electronic devices before bed,” the study continued. 

Of those surveyed, 56% said they use their phones before bed to “wind down,” while 50% said they do so to reply to messages from family and friends that they didn’t get to during the day. 

“To a lesser extent, people said they scroll on their apps before bed to look at something they couldn’t attend, to check the number of likes and comments on something they’ve posted, or to post new content on their social channels,” the study reported. 

In another study published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers found that “using mobile phones during bedtime affected sleep,” and that reducing the use of phones before bedtime “increased sleep duration, positive affect, and working memory.”

Movieguide® previously reported on the importance of gaining mastery over your phone and what you can do to get control of the habit:

    • To battle Phone Face, no browsing. That means, no roving about seeking what I may devour, hunting for dopamine hits from new content, endlessly surfing from link to link. No browsing: not on the web, not on Facebook, not on the app store, not even on my favorite news sites. My goal is no browsing. This is different from purposefully looking up something specific. A search to fulfil a task or find a piece of information is one thing; taking time to study a topic diligently is also valid; but browsing is a beast, and the word is “no.”
    • To battle Phone First, others around, default to down. This is a little fuzzier than I like for a goal, so I reckon it will be a little trickier. But, the idea is to put the phone down around others: my wife, my kids, our guests, and quiet time with God. A phone can sometimes be useful to bring people together, but too often it drives a wedge. I want to be there for my family, my ministry, and most vitally, God.
    • To battle Phone vomit vortex, scarcity. I won’t give you a specific time limit, since I don’t want to bind your conscience. But, I’m restricting my time on certain trouble apps. Each day, my phone only allows me a limited time on these apps, and only my wife has the override code. The idea: with great scarcity comes great responsibility. “Do I need to use my phone on this?”
    • To battle Phone Stupor, ask why. I’m going to use an off-the-charts hipster buzzword: mindfulness. You were warned. How much more trendy could I get? Mindfulness is frustratingly on trend as a secular substitute for prayer and Bible mediation. But, being mindful is something God actually teaches us to do (“number your days” Ps 90:12). So when I pick up my phone, my goal is to ask “what am I using you for?” Then use it for that, and put it down.

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