As teens, there are many factors working together to wreak havoc on our sleep schedules. Between early school start times, late bedtimes, and high stress levels, we are at risk for chronic sleep deprivation and the health risks that come along with it, such as:

  • mental health issues
  • higher risk of obesity
  • dependence on sleep and anxiety medications, and
  • issues with learning and behavior

But with our increasing dependence on technology- whether it is texting, checking emails, using social media, or simply browsing the internet- we’re even more likely to deprive ourselves of some much needed sleep!

Let’s face it –electronics are a part of life- more so now than they’ve ever been. But while having access to our electronics on hand at all times allows us to stay engaged with the world 24/7, increasing connectivity often tricks our brains into thinking it needs to stay wired and awake 24/7, too. After spending an entire day surrounded by technology, our minds need time to unwind. However, constant exposure to technology at night exposes us to the light that our devices emit and keeps our brains active, both of which promote wakefulness.

The National Institutes of Health recommend teens get between 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Alarmingly, only 8% of U.S high school students are actually getting the recommended amount. Even more interesting is the fact that in Howard County, 77.4% of high school students are functioning on less than 8 hours of sleep on an average school night!

So how exactly do we power down before bed? Here are 3 tips to unplug to recharge!

  1. Turn off screens 30 minutes before bed! The blue light emitted by screens on electronic devices slows the production of melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle). Low levels of melatonin make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
  2. Make your bedroom a technology-free zone! It may seem harmless to scroll through your news feed before bed or unwind with a favorite movie, but by keeping your mind engaged, technology can trick your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake.
  3. Use an alarm clock instead of your phone! When your phone goes to bed with you, you usually spend your last few minutes before sleep staring at a glowing screen.Having a (nearly) never ending source of entertainment within arm’s reach is definitely bad for sleep.

Recognize that your bedroom is a place of rest, relaxation, and revitalization. By setting aside your bedroom for its intended purposes, you’ll not only improve your sleep routine, but you’ll create a quiet place for yourself-free of the demands of school, work, or the distractions of the digital world.

So tonight, give yourself a digital detox and get on your way to deeper, healthier sleep!

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