Why You Need to Stop Taking Facebook to Bed With You

woman checking phone in bedIf you're like every other human being on social media, you check for updates one last time before you drift off to sleep. Bad move, according to a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Because that exposure to social media is wrecking your good night's sleep.

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The good news about social media? It keeps us connected and entertained 24/7.

The bad news? Well, it's exactly the same thing. We're so deeply plugged in that we have a hard time turning off. And that's messing with our sleep.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine took a close look at the social media use and frequency of 1,788 adults between the ages of 19 and 32. On average, the people spent just over an hour each day on social media and visited social media accounts about 30 times a week.

(Which, if we're being honest, seems kinda low.)

Over half of the study's participants reported a medium or high level of sleep disturbance. And, no surprise, the more time they spent on some form of SM, the more likely they were to complain they weren't getting a good night's sleep.

More from The Stir: How Much Do You Know About Getting a Good Night's Sleep? (TRIVIA)

The researchers didn't speculate as to the reasons why social media is able to cause so many sleepless nights. So The Stir asked Michael J. Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist with a specialty in sleep disorders and the author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep, to explain.

The problem with cruising your newsfeeds before bed:

"It's two-fold," says Breus. "Part of the reason is the light that's emitting from your device. But the emotional engagement of social media is also a factor."

Exposure to artificial light -- especially the blue light of an electronic screen -- has been proven to seriously disrupt sleep. So much so that Apple is currently beta-testing an iPhone app called "Night Shift," which would reduce the amount of blue light its smartphone screen gives off.

But what you're reading or seeing on FB, Insta, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., also plays a part in whether you sleep like a baby or cry like one in the a.m. from being so hella exhausted. If you're exposed to something that irritates, intrigues, frightens, or basically evokes any sort of emotional reaction, sleep is going to be that much more elusive.

"Sleep doesn't have an on/off switch," Breus explains. "It's more like slowly taking your foot off the gas pedal."

You've got to ease your body into it, in other words. And watching movie trailers or cat memes before bed won't help.

What to do instead:

"Charge your phone at the other end of your house," Breus advises. "Most people plug their phone in next to their bed and use it as an alarm clock, but don't."

It makes it too easy to stay connected -- all. Night. Long. "I have patients who wake up in the middle of the night, can't sleep, [and] so get on Facebook to see what's going on," Breus notes.

The second thing you should start doing: "Impose an electronic curfew one hour before bed," says Breus. "No tablets, phones, or screens of any kind."

(The only exception to that rule is TV, since you're physically farther away from the screen.)

And unwind this way:

Try some easy yoga moves. Take a warm shower. Read a book -- find an easy ritual that will cue your brain that it's time to slow down and drift off to sleep.

Don't worry. You can look all those posts, videos, updates, and pins in the morning. We promise that they'll still be there.

 

Image via leungchopan/Shutterstock

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