Friday, July 28, 2017

Are Our Devices Making Us Fat & Sleepy?

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

How many of you love to snuggle up in bed with your Kindle and read a bit before you fall asleep? 

And since I’m talking to writers, how many of you will occasionally pull your laptop into bed to work on a few more pages of your WIP until you get sleepy? Have you noticed that you sometimes have a hard time falling sleep after these nighttime sessions? 

There’s a reason for this, and it’s not hormones, hot flashes, or caffeine.

An article published by the National Sleep Foundation, “Three Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep,” tells us why. “The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.”

To add insult to injury, John Naish, quoting a 2014 report in the Canadian Journal of Public Health  in his article, “Why Your Phone Is Keeping You Awake at Night,” states, “Poor sleep is thought to upset the balance of appetite-controlling hormones such as ghrelin, which tells our brains when we are hungry. When tired, we are more prone to crave foods high in sugar and fat.”

Yikes! So not only are our devices making us sleep deprived, they might also be making us fat.

If you think you might be a victim of technology-induced insomnia, here are three suggestions to help restore your sleep patterns and minimize your chances of developing sleep-related obesity:

1. Eliminate the use of blue-light-emitting devices within 30-minutes of going to sleep.

2. If you like to read before bed, read a good, old-fashioned print book instead of reading on your iPad, iPhone, or computer. Anne-Marie Chang, neuroscientist at Harvard, recently told Scientific American about these interesting findings: “In 2014 my colleagues and I examined the effects of reading on a light-emitting device compared with reading a printed book. Participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep [the phase when we dream], and had higher alertness before bedtime [than those people who read printed books]…” Another great reason to read books.

3. If you have an iPhone with iOS 9.3's Night Shift feature, use it. The’s article, “Your iPhone Keeps You Awake at Night,” explains how Apple has taken steps to make sure technology helps us rather than hurts us. "Night Shift (found in your Settings under Display & Brightness) uses your iOS device's clock and geolocation to determine when it's sunset in your location, then it automatically shifts the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum. In the morning, it returns the display to its regular settings." If you’d like to control when your phone display switches over, you can also manually program it.

So if sleepless in Seattle (or San Francisco or Savannah) describes more than the 1993 romantic comedy, try these three steps to ensure your devices continue to work for you rather than against you. It doesn’t take a scientific study to show that a well-rested writer is a more creative, productive and happy writer. And who knows, you might even lose a few pounds. This possibility alone makes it worth a try.



  1. Lori, It's so much more than that! I'm now working on a book after my cancer journey. For the past week, I've done nothing but study about the effects of EMF's on the body's immune system. We now have so many EMFs coming at us from so many directions without knowing all the impact.

    My number one suggestion is to turn off your WiFi at night when you are asleep. The signals emitted by your router also keep you from going into deep sleep. Number two recommendation is to keep your cell phone or tablet off your body. Use speaker phone whenever possible or ear phones. They are beginning to see cases where the cumulative effect of placing those devices near your body can result in cancer.

    1. That's quite interesting. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like very good tips.

  2. I asked Siri about this. She said she likes me just the way I am.

    1. Siri is very affirming, Tim. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. so maybe i should be thankful for my "baby kindle" - the one without color or illumination!! good thoughts, Lori, thanks!

    1. Excellent point, Robin. The latest and greatest isn't always the greatest.