Texting, watching television, and playing games before bed could be responsible for 63 percent of Americans not getting enough sleep. The latest study from the National Sleep Foundation has experts suggesting an electronics curfew an hour before bedtime.
It's sad that I'm not sure what I would do in the hour before I go to bed without some sort of electronic stimulation. I've either got Netflix running on the iPad on my bedside table, some sort of game on my DSi, iPhone, or Windows Phone 7, or I simply wait until I'm too tired to play on a console or PC before collapsing into bed.
Sad, but I am not alone. According to the annual Sleep in America poll, which surveyed 1,508 people between the ages of 13 and 64, 95 percent of Americans use some sort of electronic device in the hour before they fall asleep. Folks over the age of 30 are watching television in bed. Those under 30 are gaming or texting.
While the study isn't claiming to establish a link between electronics use and poor sleep, it does have many experts concerned with the effect of these bright devices during the time we should be winding down for the day.
"Falling asleep isn't like flicking a switch. We don't put our heads on the pillow and fall off to sleep," said Allison G. Harvey, a sleep specialist and professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. "We take time to wind down at night. If we've got bright light conditions, we're not giving ourselves a chance to get off to sleep and stay asleep."
It could be the bright light keeping us awake. Dr. Matt Travis Bianchi, a sleep specialist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, suggests sleepers that can't escape the glow of a computer or television try using dampening glasses to dim the light artificially.
Bianchi also suggests that if the problem isn't light, it could be the anxiety of receiving an anger-inducing email just before bed. I'd imagine the frustration of being unable to complete a video game level or anger over someone being wrong on the internet (it happens!) would have the same effect.
Harvey recommends folks take 30-60 minutes an evening to simply wind down. I'm not sure what winding down would entail. Perhaps listening to soothing music in the dark, sipping at some sleepy time tea and reflecting on the day.
Sounds terrifying, doesn't it?