Adequate sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle that can benefit your heart, memory, mind, and weight (to name a few). The hour spent before bedtime can set the tone for how you’ll sleep that night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, at least ninety-five percent of people use some kind of electronic device, whether it be a computer, the television, a phone, or a tablet, within an hour of bedtime.

Playing a game on your tablet or sending out a few emails from your phone can be the reason you struggle to fall asleep at night. Dr. Charles Czeisler, a sleep doctor at Harvard Medical School, says that the blue light from our screens sends a signal to our brains that it’s still daylight. Our body then sees a surge of energy that blocks the melatonin that makes us sleepy. The light stimulates the brain, and it’s harder to wind down.

What can you do to improve your chances of getting a better night’s sleep?

  • Don’t read from a backlit device at night (your Kindle, iPad, tablet, or phone). It’s best to read from an actual book with a soft light from a lamp on your bedside table. If you must use a portable electronic device to read, use an eReader that is not backlit, i.e. one that requires an additional light source such as a bedside lamp. Or try an app that flips your screen’s background. Instead of black letters on a white background, it will show white letters on a black background. This small change will help cut down on how much light is emitted.
  • Turn off all your screens an hour before bed.
  • Keep noise down. If you can’t avoid noise from city traffic, loud neighbors, or barking dogs, try masking it with a fan or white noise. Earplugs are another option, though if you have young children, that might not be the best choice.
  • Charge your electronics in a different room than you sleep in. Don’t keep them on your bedside table.
  • Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. Instead, invest in an actual alarm clock, and cover the screen with an extra pillowcase so the light doesn’t disturb you.
  • Write down your stresses. Clinical psychologist Michael Breus says that the number one sleep complaint he hears is that his patients can’t turn off their minds. Before you go to bed, write down your top concerns and the steps that you can take to solve the problem. Once your concerns are put into an action plan, you’ll hopefully be able to rest easier.

What do you do to make sure you get your best night’s sleep? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook. If you’d like to set up a time to meet up with Reka, you can contact her by phone at 402-881-8125 and by email at

photo credit: Mirage Maple Savanna [Bedroom] via photopin (license)