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5 reasons not to watch negative images or television before you sleep

What might seem like a harmless way to unwind can significantly impact the quality of our rest
Photo credit: / StratfordProductions

The warm glow of a phone screen in the quiet darkness – a familiar sight for many as we wind down for the night. Scrolling through social media, catching up on the latest episode, or even watching the news might seem like a harmless way to unwind. However, what we consume visually right before sleep can significantly impact the quality of our rest. Ditching negative screens before bed isn’t just about willpower; it’s a recipe for sweeter dreams and a more energized tomorrow.

The science of sleep disruption

Our bodies rely on a natural sleep-wake cycle regulated by hormones like melatonin. Exposure to screens before bed disrupts this delicate balance. Electronic devices, especially phones and tablets, emit blue light, which has a powerful effect on melatonin production. Blue light suppresses the production of this sleep hormone, tricking our brains into thinking it’s daytime. This makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night, leading to a cascade of negative consequences.

The repercussions of disrupted sleep go beyond feeling tired. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to daytime fatigue, reduced concentration, weakened immunity, and even an increased risk of chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Beyond blue light: The emotional toll

The content we consume can significantly impact our emotional state, and bedtime is no exception. Bombarding ourselves with negative news stories, violent movies, or social media feeds filled with unrealistic portrayals can elevate feelings of anxiety and stress. These emotions linger even after we turn off our devices, making it difficult to relax and drift off to sleep. The constant barrage of negativity can leave us overwhelmed and on edge, making peaceful slumber a distant dream.

Stimulation overload: Brains crave calm

Imagine trying to meditate in a bustling Times Square. Our brains crave a sense of calm before sleep. Unfortunately, the constant stimulation from screens, with their fast-paced visuals, flashing lights, and notifications, keeps our brains engaged and alert. This makes it challenging to wind down and transition into a sleep-ready state. Instead of preparing for restful sleep, our brains are left buzzing with activity, making it difficult to switch gears and achieve true relaxation.

Negative dreams: The unwanted guests

Studies have shown a correlation between watching disturbing content before bed and experiencing vivid or negative dreams. These unsettling dreams can disrupt sleep and leave you feeling disoriented and uneasy upon waking. The negative emotions and imagery from the screen can seep into your subconscious, leading to unpleasant dreamscapes that further fragment your sleep.

Impact on relationships: A shared sleep sanctuary

The blue light emitted from screens can disrupt your sleep and negatively impact your partner’s rest. Sharing a bed with someone engrossed in their phone can create feelings of neglect and hinder intimacy. The constant glow and notifications can be disruptive, making it difficult for your partner to fall or stay asleep. Creating a sleep sanctuary requires a joint effort, and ditching negative screens before bed is an essential step towards a more restful night for both partners.

Power down for sweet dreams: Creating a sleep oasis

Now that we’ve explored the negative impact of screens before bed let’s delve into creating a bedtime routine that promotes restful sleep. Here are some tips to replace negative screens with sleep-friendly alternatives:

  • Establish a relaxing routine: Develop a calming bedtime ritual that signals to your body it’s time to wind down. This could include taking a warm bath with calming essential oils, reading a book with soft light, practicing light stretches, or listening to calming music. Repetition is key – a consistent routine helps your body anticipate sleep and prepare for a restful night.

  • Dim the lights: Exposure to bright light, even from sources like lamps or overhead lights, can suppress melatonin production. Dim the lights in your bedroom at least an hour before bed to create a sleep-conducive environment. Consider using dimmers on existing lights or investing in bedside lamps with a warm glow.

  • Power down devices: Set a specific time to turn off your electronic devices – ideally, at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light from screens disrupts sleep cycles, so creating a buffer zone between screen time and bedtime is crucial. Create a charging station outside the bedroom to avoid the temptation of late-night screen checks.

  • Embrace activities that promote relaxation: Spend the time before bed on activities that promote relaxation. Take a warm bath with calming essential oils, practice gentle yoga poses, write in a gratitude journal, or listen to a guided meditation. These activities help quiet your mind and prepare your body for sleep.

  • Create a sleep-friendly environment: Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains, earplugs, and a comfortable mattress to optimize sleep quality. A cool room (around 65°F) promotes deeper sleep, while darkness minimizes light disruptions. Consider using a white noise machine to block out external noises that might disturb your sleep.

Beyond the bedroom: Habits for better sleep

A good night’s sleep isn’t just about the bedtime routine. Here are some additional lifestyle habits that can significantly improve your sleep quality:

  • Regular exercise: Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality, but avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime. Aim for moderate exercise at least a few hours before sleep.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at consistent times, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed: While caffeine might give you a temporary energy boost, it can disrupt your sleep later at night. Similarly, alcohol might make you feel drowsy initially, but it can fragment your sleep and lead to early morning awakenings.

  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can significantly impact sleep quality. To manage stress levels throughout the day, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.

  • See a doctor if needed: If you’re experiencing persistent sleep problems despite implementing these changes, consult a doctor. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions that might be contributing to your sleep difficulties.

By prioritizing healthy sleep habits and ditching negative screens before bed, you can unlock the door to a world of sweet dreams. Remember, a good night’s sleep is an investment in your overall health and well-being. So, dim the lights, power down the devices, and create a sleep sanctuary that allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

This story was created using AI technology.

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