December 8, 2012

How glowing rectangles can cause sleep deprivation

When clients come in to my Houston office complaining of feeling depressed or anxious, one of the first questions I ask them is about how they are sleeping. Inevitably, they are having trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep. I think we have all had the experience of lying in bed, feeling more anxious every time we look at the clock, wishing we could just fall asleep. But, we can't. Ugh. Sleep deprivation takes it toll one hard night at at time.

Besides feeling moody and tired, getting less than 6 hours of sleep at night for prolonged periods of time can lead to a suppressed immune system, increased blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and can even increase levels of the hunger hormones (ghrelin) which can lead you to feel hungrier. Scary, right? This is the kind of news that could keep you up at night. So, how can you conquer sleep?  Actually, there are many things you can do to get to sleep faster. We will be covering one of them in this first post about sleeping better.

New research has shown that exposure to blue light like the kind that comes from smart phones, laptops, and e-readers (really any glowing rectangle) can be especially detrimental to your sleep if you are exposed to it two hours before bed. The blue light suppresses melatonin, a hormone the brain produces during darkness, and basically tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime, causing you to feel more awake. If you want to sleep better, try turning off any of those glowing rectangles at least two hours before bed. Resist the urge to check your e-mail one last time, or check out the latest Facebook status updates. It may be bad for your health!

Happy Sleeping...

Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? Our counselors are available to speak in person or via video. Contact our Houston counselors to find out how we can help.

1 comment:

  1. Very true. It has a bigger impact than one would think. I realized this when I tried practicing good "sleep hygiene" habits.