Insomnia and Screen Time: Effects on your brain

Insomnia and screen time are increasingly being identified as a growing issue.

If you’ve ever suffered with Insomnia you then know that it’s far more than the couple of all nighters you pulled off in your twenties.

What is Insomnia ?

Insomnia is the Inability to fall and/or stay asleep. It can also be the cause why you wake up feeling unrested and low of energy.

Acute insomnia typically lasts from one night to a couple of weeks.

Chronic insomnia, meanwhile, is diagnosed with an occurence of at least three nights a week, for three months or more.

Fatigue, loss in concentration and bad moods are just some of the symptoms you may experience. Chronic insomnia can lead to irritability, anxiety, depression and the many symptoms tied to sleep deprivation.

It can turn you into a zombie from the walking dead.

Insomnia and screen time: 2 Zombies walking away from a plane

Screen Time

Now, stop and think at the hours in a day you spend typing on your laptop or browsing through your social media feed on your mobile phone.

We have evolved to use technology, in the form of screen time, in all areas of our everyday lives.

It has blindly become the norm.

So much so, that crying kids are now put to sleep with the help of TVs, tablets or mobile phones.

Little do we know, however, that the consequences of doing so in excess, may outweigh the benefits.

I’m not saying screens are all bad.

They brings many benefits to society. Connection and the ease of access to information, for example, are just a few amongst many others.

Having said that, screen time, has enormous effects on the brains of both adults and children alike.

Guy in front of a screen, quickly browsing through social media

Insomnia and Screen time

As a result of always staying connected and glued to a screen, we spend most of our days in an over-stimulated state.

Our poor brains, hence, end up always alert and switched on.

Remaining in this state of alertness signals to the pineal gland in the brain, to inhibit the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Melatonin is not only important for us to get to sleep, it is important for the deep sleep stage, which is the stage of sleep where the body repairs itself.

Hence, you may still get to sleep at night, but your melatonin levels wouldn’t necessarily be as high as they could be.

Regular disruptions to melatonin levels, in time cause the circadian rhythm, our body’s clock to become out of sync.

If you’ve ever experienced jetlag, that is the feeling of a disruption to the circadian rhythm.

These disruptions to the circadian rhythm and resulting low melatonin levels, are the resulting factors behind screen induced insomnia.

Children are more at risk of this insomnia, because their brains are still in development.

You may believe, therefore, that you should only limit screen time, the culprit, before bed.

This is only partly true. Prolonged daytime use also has an adverse effect on the production of melatonin in the brain.

If you spend 12 hours of your day on a screen and switch off an hour before bed, your nervous system still remains stimulated enough to affect your sleep.

Takeaway

It is near impossible to avoid screen time in this day and age, though, with moderation, it doesn’t need to be avoided.

Mindfully become aware of the time you or your children are spending in front of a screen in a day and find an adequate balance.

Meanwhile, keep turning off your screens 1 to 2 hours before bed, keeping in mind the earlier the better.

The earlier you switch off those screens the more your brain has a chance of keeping insomnia at bay.


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