When we found our electronic devices could disrupt our sleep, we made some simple changes for improving our sleep.
Do you have a hard time falling asleep? What about staying asleep? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, approximately 30 percent of American adults struggle with insomnia. Studies show that exposure to artificial electromagnetic fields (EMFs) may play a role in disrupting our sleep by suppressing the body’s production of melatonin, the key regulator of sleep.
The good news is there are all sorts of ways to reduce our exposure in our sleep areas. (Better: When I understood the potential of our devices to disrupt our sleep I was motivated to make these changes.)
- We turned the router off.
This simple step can go a long way toward reducing your nighttime exposure. Ideally, it’s optimal to transition to wired computers and eliminate Wi-Fi altogether, but turning off the router is an excellent first step. If you have a hard time remembering, put the router on a timer that will turn it off at the same time each night. If you must be near an active router either at night or during the day, consider a router guard.
- We removed the cordless phone and replaced it with a corded landline.
Cordless DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) phones emit high levels of microwave radiation. Most of the hazardous EMFs come from the base station, which is powered 24 hours a day. The antennas radiate these fields for hundreds of feet and are much like having a mini cell phone tower in your room. If a corded phone is not an option, move the base station to another area of the home, keeping the charged handset in the room with you at least six feet from your body. This simple change has made the biggest difference for me as I was the one sleeping next to it.Similarly, cell phones are best kept away from your sleeping area. Invest in a battery-operated clock if an alarm is needed.
- We moved as many electrical devices as possible away our sleeping area.
I keep one small lamp next to my bed. I have removed everything else. If possible, remove radios, TVs, answering machines, VCRs, lamps, computers, etc. If you must have any of these, keep them at least six feet from your body and unplug them before sleep. The International Institute for Building-Biology & Ecology (IIBBE) recommends removing televisions entirely as they still emit fields when unplugged.
- We eliminated electronic media two hours before bedtime.
In the study Using Electronic Media Before Sleep Can Curtail Sleep Time and Result in Self-Perceived Insufficient Sleep, those who used very little media before bedtime reported better sleep than those who indicated heavy media use. If you do read on a device before bedtime, consider using blue-light filtering glasses. Most devices emit blue light that suppresses melatonin. These are affordable and readily available online. I use my orange glasses every night!
- Consider cutting the power supply to your bedroom at night.
While unplugging electronic devices can help, you might consider turning off the circuit breaker that provides power to your sleeping area. If you’re not sure which one it is, switch off each circuit until you find it. You can also invest in a demand switch or cut-off switch that automatically cuts the flow of electricity to the room when there is no demand for it. If your breaker is in an easy to reach place, it can be a simple habit to just turn off the bedroom breakers before you go to sleep.
There are many other steps you can take to improve the electromagnetic environment in your sleeping area. See more in my post Sleep, Melatonin and Electronic Devices.