Excess screen time key reason for poor sleep, claims study

Health, News

Experts have cited excess screen time as one of the key reasons behind a poor night’s sleep, a brand new study on sleep quality shows.

The WakeUpWell study, conducted by Blinds Direct, analysed light pollution levels, sun hours and mean temperatures in key locations to establish which parts of England experience the lowest quality of sleep.

It showed, perhaps not surprisingly, that Central London was the least well-rested area in England based on light exposure, as it reported an average brightness value of 70 – 65% higher light pollution levels than seen in the most rested city (Newcastle).

In fact, artificial light was found to be the most disruptive factor when trying to sleep, as high levels of light pollution disrupt our essential sleep-wake cycles. This can result in poor focus, impaired decision-making and even an increased injury risk, according to the NHS.

This artificial light exposure is exacerbated by increased screen time seen during the pandemic, due to blue light disruption, with the latest figures showing that the average person picks up their phone 58 times per day – 48% of which take place outside of working hours.

It’s no surprise that this constant checking of our mobiles impacts productivity and restfulness, as studies show that it takes around 23 minutes and 15 seconds to focus back on a task once you’ve been distracted – including winding down for bed.

So, how can Brits increase their chances of getting a good night’s rest? Sleep scientists, sleep coaches and psychologists weighed in, with the following advice:

Establish and stick to a good sleep routine
Reduce light exposure and limit screen time before bed
Prioritise switching off from work and keeping professional and personal spaces separate

Allana Wass, Certified Sleep Science Coach, says that establishing and sticking to a routine is paramount. She says: “Although it might be hard to go to bed and wake up at the same time, this is only at first. Once your body adjusts to a specific schedule, you won’t even have to catch up on sleep during the weekends. 

“The thing is, sticking to a sleep schedule will allow your body to regulate its natural sleep and wake cycles easier. And with time, you will find it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally.”

Katherine Hall, Sleep Psychologist, agrees that a routine is crucial – particularly as Brits start returning to the office. She adds:

“If you have been routinely waking up slightly later since working from home, you may find waking up slightly earlier more difficult. 

“With more and more people working from home during the pandemic, the line between ‘work’ and ‘home’ has become a lot blurrier. This may have led to excessive time spent in front of your phone, delaying sleep and impacting sleep quality.”

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For Alex Savy, Certified Sleep Science Coach, light levels are the most impactful factor on sleep:

“To improve one’s sleep quality, you need to control light exposure. Try to get enough daylight by sitting near the window during work or taking walks whenever you can (even on a foggy day, it still might do you some good). 

“Additionally, you might want to limit your screen time and, ideally, avoid taking devices to bed. You can use a blue light filter in the evening for extra protection and dim the lights around the house a couple of hours before bedtime.”

Thomas Croft, HR Manager at Blinds Direct adds: “The study has made it evident that it’s not easy to get a good night’s sleep regardless of where you live or what you do for a living, as all cities and regions are exposed to high levels of light pollution.

“With an imminent return to pre-pandemic life, and people returning to work after a long period of working from home, it’s crucial that we prioritise our sleep schedule and ensure our homes are conducive to a high quality of sleep. Whether it’s by investing in blackout blinds, or a new mattress; or limiting screen time.”

To see the full results of the analysis, please visit the #WakeUpWell study here: https://www.blindsdirect.co.uk/wake-up-well 

Chris Price
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