As news and social media swarm across the features of exciting new technology, it’s important to remember the balance we must practice between technology and nature. Smartphones and other devices have invaded our lives. We continue to check emails when work should be finished for the day, take calls during family dinners and read tomorrow’s briefing notes moments before trying to sleep. It’s dangerously unhealthy!
This constant stimulus is forcing the neural and synaptic connections in our brains to work overtime. Watching television before sleep or sending those last minute work emails is compelling our neurons to fire for longer than ever before. This inevitably results in sleeping issues – it’s harder to settle, insomnia is common and as we are unable to rest properly when we do get to sleep.
Interruption to the transduction process of stimulus is the key factor here. Transduction refers to the ability for our sensory receptors to transform the stimulus to particular neurochemicals, which the brain can process. Our eyes detect light in the form of wavelengths, with each colour coded to a different wavelength. The different wavelengths allow the brain to process and interpret the surrounding environment. The stimulus, measured in wavelengths, is picked up in the eye as basic units of light. Each colour has a slightly different wavelength. These different wavelengths affect the brain in a variety of ways, including adjusting our circadian rhythm. The wavelength that adjusts this is a protein called melanopsin, which has a blue hue. The colour emitted by smartphones and other smart devices whilst you sit in bed at night is blue. Staring at the blue light wakes the body up and changes our natural sleeping rhythm.
To return to a more natural and peaceful slumber it’s suggested to shut down your electronic devices at least an hour before bed. Try reading a book to wind down or listen to some gentle music as your body settles for rest.