The modern world is full of pressures, and often there's nothing better for de-stressing than simply getting a good night's sleep. Yet even with myriad high-tech options for relaxing before bed -- scrolling through social media, streaming a favorite Netflix series, or downloading a new app -- nothing makes the morning any brighter. Surprise: It could very well be that your pre-sleep solutions are the culprits, not the cures. Essentially, the blue light coming out of most modern devices is "short-wave enriched" and draining you of much-needed melatonin, a hormone that brings a satisfying snooze. According to Anne-Marie Chang, a Harvard neuroscientist, it has long been known that light directly impacts our circadian rhythm -- our body's clock -- by dampening our melatonin levels. At night, the darkness allows melatonin to be released and lets us drift off into dreamland. But all of the blue light from phone and laptop screens keeps that release from occurring on time, thus throwing off our sleep patterns. Chang says that if you just can't bring yourself to hit the "power off" button, try dimming the brightness or using a program that filters the short-wave light.
Some eye-opening facts about sleep:
- Regular exercise can help you sleep, but exercising sporadically or right before bed might have the opposite effect.
- Although most people need approximately seven to nine hours of sleep a night, some can get by with six, while others need as many as 10 hours.
- Everyone is believed to dream, usually about four to six times a night, but most people forget their dreams upon waking. If you want to remember them, getting into the habit of writing in a sleep journal might help.