Closeup portrait of a woman using smartphone with headphones

Wired and Tired

There is growing evidence that when we play video games, or even just surf the internet for engaging information, we trigger the fight or flight stress response in our brains. If we do this just before falling asleep, it means that although we sleep, we don’t attain the same depth of normal sleep because our brain is still vigilant (the fight or flight response).

In addition, there are two more problems with using electronic devices just before bedtime. First, the screens are very bright. This bright light shining directly into our eyes shuts down the release of melatonin, one of the important chemicals for turning on our Sleep cycle. Second, anything electronic emits electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Internet use compounds the level of EMR. Like bright light, EMR disrupts melatonin release. Plus it can also enhance our fight or flight state.

According to Dr. Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D, “The Kempton West Study in Germany (2007) showed that residents exposed to a wireless cell phone transmitter (which emits high amounts of EMR) installed nearby, developed dramatic changes in their melatonin and serotonin (another brain chemical, related to feeling calm and having a sense of well-being) regulation. Interestingly, night time melatonin was reduced in the majority of the subjects, while daytime melatonin increased. Essentially, the melatonin release ‘flattened out’ and shifted to being released in the morning. This effectively reduced deep sleep and at the same time caused a feeling of exhaustion upon awakening in the study participants – the ‘wired and tired’ effect.”

Are you or your children waking in the morning with the following complaints?

  • Feeling as if you have not slept well
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Poor memory, poor focus
  • Hard to wake up in the morning
  • Disorganized in the morning
  • Irritability and meltdowns
  • Difficulty with learning

You might try cutting out all interactive electronic devices, like cell phones, iPads, and e-readers after 7:00pm.

Don’t allow these devices in bedrooms. To stop using interactive electronic devices early in the evening will probably be a real challenge but, if doing so gives longer and more restful sleep, it will be worthwhile.

Remember, when you lack sleep, you’re only working at half power. Not enough sleep could lead to a momentary lack of attention causing an accident, leaving you with a brain injury for the rest of your life.

As William Shakespeare says:

“Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”– Macbeth (2.2.46-51)

Don’t miss out on your precious sleep.

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