Hot Summer Nights? Don’t let electronics make it harder to sleep.
Summertime. The season of staying up later either in the hope of a cooler bedroom or for night to really settle in. On those evenings, it’s tempting to while away the time on your iPhone, iPad or computer. I used to write at night until I acknowledged that I couldn’t sleep afterwards. Turns out that’s not unusual. Those devices emit blue light that that suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. In fact, according to the Apple Certified Support Specialist at F-11 Photo, research suggests that the use of light-emitting electronic devices before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, delays the circadian clock, reduces the amount of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the next morning.
Solutions? Read an old-fashioned paperback novel or a hold-it-in-your hands copy of Distinctly Montana magazine. Prefer to read articles like this on the online blog? Happily, there are fixes for your electronics too. The folks at F-11 Photo suggest a donationware utility called f.lux. Compatible with both the Mac and Windows, at sunset, f.lux starts warming up the color temperature of the display, with the goal of making it look like a page of a book (or magazine) under your normal room lights.
You can access the free download through the f.lux website. The website includes a lot of other interesting information on improving sleep so explore.
On newer iPhones and iPads, iOS 9.3 offers a feature called “Night Shift.” Look under Settings > Display & Brightness for the option to warm the temperature of the screen automatically on a schedule, enable the temperature warming manually until the next day, and control just how warm you like it. In terms of scheduling, the default approach is from sunset to sunrise, but you can also set custom times, which might be useful on long, not summer nights.
For myself, I try to turn off my electronics by 9 PM. But I’ve noticed that time frame slipping lately as I sit in my kitchen, waiting for temps to drop in my upstairs bedroom. I like knowing that I wasn’t making up the connection between keyboarding and having trouble sleeping. It’s also good to know that If technology creates challenges in falling and staying asleep, it also offers solutions.
Jenna Caplette migrated from California to Montana in the early 1970s, first living on the Crow Indian reservation, then moving to Bozeman where she owned a downtown retail anchor for eighteen years. These days she owns Bozeman BodyTalk & Energetic Healthcare, hosts a monthly movie night, teaches and writes about many topics.