There are many fine ways to recover from our crazy days as working mothers. We can kick back with a book, watch a movie, fire up an exercise DVD, play a video game, goof around on social media, whatever your late-night, kid-free pleasure. Of course the best thing for us is probably sleep (sweet sleep, which “knits up the ravell’d sleave of care” and also means no one is asking me to wipe a butt), but unfortunately all that other stuff I mentioned might actually be undermining your efforts to get a good night’s rest.
A study conducted by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and published in the journal Applied Ergonomics (read the original here) showed that exposure to the artificial light emitted by tablets can inhibit the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate our internal clocks. The study showed that two hours of exposure to a bright tablet screen at night reduced melatonin levels by about 22 percent. Other studies have shown that once you mess with melatonin, you risk increasing your chances of developing obesity, diabetes, and other health issues. I know several people who say taking melatonin supplements help them sleep better, which makes me wonder if cutting back on screen time at night—in effect letting the body naturally produce adequate levels of melatonin–would have the same effect.
Although vegging out in front of the t.v. or playing around on the Internet are easy enough traps to avoid if I put my back into it (and we all know that I’ll fall on my sword before I read for pleasure on a tablet), working on the computer until right before I go to bed is sometimes unavoidable. Sure, I’d love to take an hour to dim the lights and play soothing music and maybe dab my wrists with lavender oil before I slip into my comfiest jammies and drift off to dreamland, but the reality is I often workworkworkworkwork until I crash face-first into the mattress in whatever T-shirt I’m wearing and then wake up the next morning exhausted but grateful that I got whatever little sleep I managed snag. It’s easy to blame a night-waking baby for my poor sleep habits, but it might be more useful if I acknowledged the things I can actually control, like, for instance, my Candy Crush habit.
How do you engage with technology before going to bed? Is shutting it down part of your pre-bedtime routine, or is using it one of the ways you look forward to relaxing at the end of the day?