Staring At Your Phone Prevents You From Sleeping - Unless You Do It Right
| Last updated
Picture the scene: it's 4.40am, and you've been lying awake for what feels like endless millennia, frustrated by your inability to return to the land of nod. Eventually you sigh, open your eyes and decide to pass the time by looking at your smartphone for a bit. That'll help you drift off, won't it?
BIG MISTAKE. Now you're fully awake, because the backlight on your phone has tricked your brain into thinking it's daytime. Worst of all, this isn't the first time you've made this mistake, and it almost certainly won't be the last.
Well, looks like Apple has a solution to your problem - did you know the iPhone update has a setting called Night Shift? In theory it means you can stare at your phone to your heart's content, whatever the hour, and you won't be troubled by that pesky backlight.
Your phone's backlight prevents you from getting to sleep as it emits 'blue light' which mimics the brightness of the sun - which in turn stops your brain from producing melatonin (basically, the hormone that tells your body when it's time to go to sleep).
The upshot of this is that looking at your smartphone can damage your sleep cycle, which carries its own health risks and could even increase the risk of you falling prey to diabetes or heart disease, according to some studies.
However, Night Shift changes all this by automatically adjusting the display so that it gives off less blue light.
It can also be set to kick in and switch off at whatever times you choose, meaning you can check your phone between those hours without your sleep being affected.
Lovely stuff - although, of course, there's also the matter of what you're looking at on your phone, which could also be affecting your sleep. If you're checking your work emails, playing games or entering a 400-post Facebook debate about whether The Last Jedi was any good, it's likely you'll just stress yourself awake either way.
According to one sleep expert, there are much more productive ways of trying to get to sleep. In 2016, Professor Raj Dasgupta told Business Insider: "If you can't sleep, good sleep hygiene suggests that you get up, get out of bed, and do something else, something relaxing, like going and reading a book.
"But nowadays people aren't doing that, they're pulling out their phones and scrolling."
A professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Prof. Dasgupta advised that we're probably best to stick to the relaxing stuff, saying: "You want to gradually transition into sleep; you don't want your mind to be stimulated.
"At bedtime, you want to be at peace."
So there you go. Switch on Night Mode, avoid emails and games, and stay off Facebook - seems straightforward enough.
Of course, you could always just avoid looking at your phone *full stop*, but who are we kidding?