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Lights Out

Could your smartphone be sabotaging your sleep? Experts recommend powering down electronic devices and TVs, many of which have screens that emit blue light, an hour or two before bedtime. That’s because nigh time exposure to light—blue light in particular—can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep cycle.

Instead of LED or compact fluorescent bulbs, experts advise use of incandescent or red bulbs to light your bedroom. If you must tune in to electronics near bedtime, dim the screen as much as possible, use blue-light blocking products such as glasses or screen covers, and avoid stressful activities. “If you are online and working on a work email, obviously you’re amped up,” observes Tony Masri, MD, medical director of El Camino Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Program. “Your body is telling you to stay up and get this done.”

Additional recommendations for good sleep hygiene include:

  • Exercise and follow a healthy diet.
  • Expose yourself to bright light during the day.
  • Cut back on daytime napping.
  • Limit fluid intake (especially caffeinated and alcoholic beverages) close to bedtime.
  • Keep your sleep and wake schedule consistent, even on weekends.
  • Wind down with a relaxing routine.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet and cool (between 60 and 67 degrees).
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
  • Get out of bed if you haven’t fallen asleep after 20 minutes.

Sources: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Berkeley Wellness, Harvard Health Publications, Mayo Clinic, National Sleep Foundation

This article first appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of the El Camino Hospital Health Beat magazine.

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