it has been 4 years since I started turning my computer off at 7 p.m.
When I first wrote about turning off my computer, my motivation was to spend more time with my family. Add to that I was exhausted and in need of some necessary me-time of an evening, these two factors helped me to sustain the practice.
Today, my motivations remain the same. And since reading about the impact of blue light on sleep patterns, I’ve become all the more determined to continue.
A (very) brief look at the science behind sleep…
Melatonin is one of the hormones that influences sleep. It is released into your body by the pineal gland, a pea-sized organ found in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles. And we all know how important sleep is for your physical (and mental) health.
what does this have to do with blue light?
Blue light can keep the pineal gland from releasing melatonin, thus warding off sleepiness.
Studies have shown that exposure to blue light at night can be linked to several types of cancer (breast, prostate) diabetes, heart disease, obesity and an increased risk for depression. (Blue Light Exposed)
now, I’m the first to admit that technology has its benefits
I use it most days myself. But, I also know I’m a bear if I don’t get enough sleep (from 7-9 hours is recommended for my age group).
And having a teenage, game-addicted boy in the house strengthens my resolve.
I turn my computer and i-devices off at 7 p.m. It’s good for my health, plus I’m also modeling a positive behaviour for my Little Man (8 1/2 – 9 1/2 hours sleep is needed by him).
There are other factors as well. Time spent on social media is adding to feelings of jealousy, fear and loneliness in people. We experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and are finding it harder to be still and silent. And while it’s been wonderful making connections online, nothing beats an eye-to-eye conversation with someone you know and love.
learning to power down is an important life skill
And while it may take some time to learn the discipline, your life will be richer (and healthier) because of it.
In the comments, I’d love to hear:
Do you power down your devices daily, or are you guilty of leaving your computer on all night?
Have you engaged in a digital sabbatical before? Would you do it again?
And finally, some additional resources that you might find interesting:
Scientific American – Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?
Harvard Health Publications – Blue light has a dark side
The Sabbath Manifesto – a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world.
f.lux – makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.