For anyone to function normally, getting adequate and good quality sleep is very important. Disrupted and unusual sleeping hours and patterns deteriorate both mental and physical health in countless ways.
Common sense dictates that we sleep on time and in synch with the natural circadian rhythms of the body. This is roughly your 24 hour cycle, or body clock which determines your physical, mental and behavioral patterns. In fact, all daily routines from waking up to going back to sleep happen within your circadian rhythm which is also known as your sleep/wake cycle.
So what you do during this sleep/wake cycle actually affects your overall health. Your circadian rhythm works best when you have regular sleep habits such as going to bed at a good hour and waking up early in the morning (incidentally, the circadian rhythm also coincides with sunrise and sundown). If a person does not sleep in accordance, there could be serious disturbances in the body, both physiological and psychological.
This establishes the need to sleep early at night. No later than 10 p.m. is advised.
However, electronics have become the norm of the day. Almost everyone with a device checks Twitter feeds, likes a couple of Instagram posts or posts a ‘bedtime’ selfie on Facebook before finally dozing off. If it is not social media, then finishing another level of a new favourite game or reading one last chapter of an eBook takes up this time. As a result, not only do people end up sleeping way past bedtime, but it has some other awful consequences too.
The blue light emitted from the screens of electronic devices is capable of inhibiting ‘melatonin’. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body to control the sleep-wake cycle and the circadian rhythm. With disturbances in melatonin production, it gets harder and harder to fall asleep. And when you do finally doze off, the quality of sleep is so poor that you remain tired for the entire day ahead.
And it is not just about using gadgets just before bed. If you have been using them excessively in the evening, your melatonin levels will be so low that sleep will escape you for many hours after that.
This is why it is important to make a rule of not using electronic devices after 8pm. This will give you at least a good one hour before going to bed that is free from blue light and other sleep disturbing effects of these devices. Without this rule, electronics will continue affecting your sleeping hours so that when you wake up the next day, neither your body nor your mind is alert enough to carry on with your daily activities.
A lack of sleep can also cause something known as sleep debt. Sleep debt is the difference between the hours of sleep that are recommended for a good night’s rest and the actual amount of shut eye that a person gets; the larger the difference between the two, the more stark the after effects.
For those who suffer from short term sleep deprivation, the damage is felt as a foggy brain, deteriorating vision, trouble driving and difficulty remembering things. Long term toll may include health hazards like obesity, development of diabetes and even cardiovascular complications.
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