The modern life of a cyborg is one of little sleep. We’re bombarded with technology that inadvertently stops us from sleeping, even the basics such as artificial lighting (room lights, street lights, lamps) affect our circadian rhythm (the daily cycle of chemical changes that dictates when we should to feel sleepy or alert), tricking us into thinking it’s daytime when it’s dark.
The two main reasons that technology affects our sleeping patterns are these; too much light in our faces, and too much information when we should be winding down.
I suffer just as much as the next man, but I have a few tips that could help out!
- F.lux is a small utility that alters the colour of your computer screen to try to suit the artificial lighting we use at night. I recommend this to everyone asking just install it and give it 48 hours, it takes a night or two to get used to it but it’s invaluable if you use it. Make sure to set ‘transition’ to slow (1 hour) so that it all happens without you noticing.
- Backlight your working environment. This will help to stop the glare that you get from your computer screen. I have a desk lamp that shines up and back onto the wall behind my desk, it just helps to even out the light that you’re exposing your eyes to.
- If you have to use a device in bed, set the brightness to as low as it can go. It’s night and your lights are off, you don’t need the full brightness that you would use on a sunny day.
- Don’t check Twitter, Facebook, etc. just before bed (and especially not in bed). Apart from the screen brightness, the ‘infinite flow’ of little stories and tweets conditions (read as trains) you to want more and more (“Just another minute”) therefore keeping your brain in ‘processing mode’.
On a side note, but still relevant, phones can be used for good as part of your sleeping rituals. Apps such as Sleep Time by Azumio can be used to track your REM cycles during your sleep and then wake you up when you’re not sleeping deeply. I’ve used this app for a long time and I believe it helps me to wake up at an optimum time, not leaving me feeling rough because I was woken from a deep sleep. I also claim credit for thinking of some features in it, they used to have a bright splash screen which I advised against, also they now create graphs of weekly/monthly data after I emailed suggesting it. Moral of the story, always email app developers with suggestions for improvements (but don’t forget to tell them about all their good work too!)
Finally, a nice infographic to back up all my points via OnlinePsychologyDegree.net