Are Electronic Screens Causing Your Insomnia Symptoms?
If you’re a Queens resident struggling with frequent insomnia, chances are you’re well aware of the benefits of improving your sleep hygiene for reducing insomnia symptoms. But what if you’ve already tried avoiding caffeine, keeping a regular sleep schedule, exercising, avoiding heavy meals right before bed, and other common methods, and haven’t seen any improvements? You actually might be overlooking another factor that could be foiling your attempts at getting a decent night’s sleep: electronic screens.
Believe it or not, LCD and other electronic screens can actually influence your sleep cycle. Electronic devices emit bluish light wavelengths that actually inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone that is a key factor in sleep-wake cycle regulation. Most of us are surrounded by electronic screens on a regular basis: televisions, computers, laptops, cell phones, and even smartwatches and other wearable devices, all have glowing electronic screens. You may not realize it, but the light from these devices may be essentially telling your brain that it’s daytime, and that it isn’t time for sleep. Turning off your TV or computer at night in Queens may actually help improve your insomnia symptoms.
Melatonin and Sleep
As many people in Queens already know, melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the brain’s pineal gland. This chemical induces drowsiness and lowers body temperature, preparing the body for sleep. Melatonin is involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, and its secretion is strongly influenced by light input into the retina. When daylight enters your eyes, it tells your brain not to produce melatonin. Redder or yellower wavelengths, such as during sunsets, trigger melatonin release to initiate sleep. The bluish light emitted by your TV, computer, and cell phone happen to be similar to the wavelengths of light that enter your eye during daylight hours; specifically, wavelengths around 460-480 nanometers. Because electronic light happens to fall into wavelengths that your brain is “wired” to use as a signal to repress melatonin, LCD screens can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Electronic Screens and Your Sleep Cycle
Most people in Queens are surrounded by electronic screens, and artificial lighting in general, at all hours of the day and night. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Artificial lighting is a very recent invention, and prior to the modern age of LCD screens, most people were exposed to yellowish or reddish light from fires or candles at night. Even incandescent lightbulbs emit more yellowish than bluish light. The phenomenon of electronic screens interfering with sleep and causing insomnia symptoms is very new. The regulation of melatonin secretion by light is very, very deeply evolutionarily ingrained, and the pineal gland is “wired” to inhibit melatonin in response to blue lights.
How to Reduce Blue Light Exposure at Night
If you have insomnia symptoms in Queens, turning off or dimming your electronics at night might help. It’s usually best to keep your bedroom as dark as possible at night, in order to help keep your sleep-wake cycle properly synced. Illumination from yellowish, relatively dim lights or candles is preferable to full overhead lighting. It also helps to turn off your TV and computer, if possible. If you need some kind of “white noise” from TV or videos to help you sleep, you can also dim the screen.
If avoiding electronic screens at night doesn’t help much with your insomnia symptoms, you may also want to consider neurofeedback therapy. Neurofeedback therapy measures brainwaves and provides the patient with audiovisual “feedback,” in order to help you train your brain to alter its patterns of electrical activity. Neurofeedback can be tremendously helpful for patients with insomnia symptoms, especially when combined with overall improvements in sleep hygiene.