The true damage of screen time before bed

According to a YouGov survey on sleep, 87 per cent of Britons say they look at their phone or tablet within an hour of going to bed. 25 per cent say they look at their phone immediately before going to sleep and 74 per cent say they keep their phones in the bedroom at night.

Experts at Browns CBD have highlighted the consequences that late-night screen time can have on your sleep.

Cognitive impairment
The blue light emitted from your device’s screen is part of the light spectrum most active in your sleep cycle. When stimulated, this part of the brain suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it difficult for people to switch off at night.

The resulting sleep deprivation from this stimulation can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and a loss in concentration that can hinder the ability to perform basic daily tasks, more commonly known as ‘brain fog’.

Poor physical health
Skimping on sleep due to late-night scrolling can cause a ripple effect that can pose profound long-term health implications. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a myriad of physical health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.

Poor sleep quality is known to negatively impact hormones that regulate everything from blood sugar to appetite.

Depression, stress, and anxiety
While not explicitly focused on late-night scrolling, research conducted over the last few years has suggested a strong link between depression and prolonged periods of screen time, especially in adolescents.

A 2023 study conducted by The Yale School of Medicine reported that more than 5,000 9–10-year-olds’ time spent on digital technology directly correlated to the likelihood of developing anxiety and depression within a couple of years.

Unplug and reset
Whilst there are many consequences strongly associated with late-night screen time, there are also many ways to combat the urge to reach for your phone before bed.

Here are a few top tips to help you unplug and reset:

Establish a night time routine
Switching off your devices a few hours before bed allows your brain to de-stress and prepare for sleep. Replacing screen time with calming bedtime rituals such as taking a bath, reading, or engaging in light exercise can help signal to your body that it’s time for bed.

Utilise digital detox tools
Ironically, you can actually use your devices to help support your sleep routine, by utilising a wide range of apps and functions. Features such as ‘sleep mode’ can help reduce blue light and block notifications to help your brain de-stress before sleep.

There is also a wide range of apps available, such as Headspace or Calm, that you can use to establish better night time routines by providing features such as guided meditation sessions to help unwind in the evening.

Re-evaluate your sleep environment
Simple changes to your sleep environment can have a significant impact on the quality of sleep you get. Getting rid of electronic stimuli and light-emitting devices can help eliminate potential distractions and remove the temptation to use your devices late at night.

Optimising comfort, using black-out blinds, and wearing earplugs to bed are other great ways to improve your sleep routine.