Facebook has become ingrained in our society. We use it to keep up with friends and family and as a way to vent our frustrations to the world. But, do our online interactions have an impact on our sleeping habits, or is it the other way around? Here, renowned women’s health expert Marla Ahlgrimm discusses the connection between social media and sleep.
Q: How do smartphones, tablets, and computers interfere with sleep?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Screens emit blue light which decreases melatonin (the body’s natural sleep serum) production. Going to bed with a smartphone in-hand disturbs the brain’s ability to produce melatonin, thus pushing the time we fall asleep further into the night. Many people choose to stay awake checking social media statuses until after midnight, despite an alarm set for 6 AM. This can cause major issues because the body needs at least seven hours of sleep each night to reboot.
Q: What are the symptoms of sleep deprivation?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Sleeping fewer than seven hours a night over a prolonged period deprives the brain of essential detoxing time. It can cause inattention, memory impairment, spikes in insulin levels, lowered problem-solving abilities, and irritability.
Q: Do sleep disorders affect women differently than men?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, to a devastating effect. Aside from affecting mood, chronic sleep deprivation can more than double the risk of dying from heart disease in women.
Q: In your opinion, is a constant social media connection responsible for America’s insomnia epidemic?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Not necessarily. Although social media addiction is a newly emerging area of research, there’s a good chance that Facebook is simply America’s preferred means of distraction. If it never existed, we would have another vice to blame. But, regardless of what is causing a lack of sleep, one thing is for sure – screened gadgets have no place in the bedroom.