How Screen Time Can Lead To Anxiety And Lack Of Sleep
Nowadays, it’s more common than ever to spend countless hours each day staring at screens. Whether it’s for work, school, entertainment, or social media, our devices are constantly vying for our attention. But what many people don’t realize is that too much screen time can have a negative impact on our mental health, especially our anxiety and sleep.
How Screen Time Affects Anxiety
When we’re constantly bombarded with stimuli from our screens, it can keep our brains in a state of hyperarousal. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. Additionally, the content we consume on screens can often be triggering for people with anxiety, such as news articles about tragedies or social media posts that make us compare ourselves to others.
How Screen Time Affects Sleep
The blue light emitted from screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. This means that using screens in the evening can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Additionally, the stimulating content we consume on screens can make it harder to relax and wind down before bed.
The Cycle of Anxiety, Screen Time, and Lack of Sleep
As you can see, there is a vicious cycle that can develop between anxiety, screen time, and lack of sleep. When we’re feeling anxious, we’re more likely to reach for our screens for comfort. But the more time we spend on screens, the worse our anxiety can get. And when we’re not getting enough sleep, our anxiety is even worse.
Symptoms of Screen Time Anxiety
If you’re concerned that you may be struggling with screen time anxiety, here are some of the symptoms to watch out for:
- Feeling restless or fidgety when you’re not using your devices
- Having difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
- Feeling irritable or easily angered
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart, sweating, or shortness of breath
How to Break the Cycle
If you’re struggling with anxiety, screen time, and lack of sleep, there are a few things you can do to break the cycle.
Set limits on your screen time
This may seem difficult at first, but it’s important to set limits on how much time you spend on screens each day. A good starting point is to aim for no more than two hours of screen time per day.
- Identify your triggers. What are the things that make you feel anxious when you’re using your devices? Once you know your triggers, you can start to avoid them or develop coping mechanisms for dealing with them.
- Find other ways to relax and de-stress. This could include exercise, spending time in nature, or practicing mindfulness meditation.
- Use a blue light filter on your devices. This can help to reduce the amount of blue light that is emitted from your screens, which can make it easier to fall asleep at night.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
- Get enough sleep. Most adults need around 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your anxiety is likely to get worse.
- Talk to a therapist. If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety on your own, talking to a therapist can be helpful. A therapist can teach you coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety and help you develop a treatment plan.
- Be mindful of the content you consume on social media. If you find that you’re comparing yourself to others or feeling anxious after using social media, take a break from it.
- Set boundaries with yourself and others about screen time. Let your friends and family know that you’re trying to reduce your screen time, and ask them to support you.
Breaking the cycle of anxiety, screen time, and lack of sleep can be challenging, but it’s possible. By following the tips above, you can start to improve your mental health and get the sleep you need.
- The National Sleep Foundation: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America: https://adaa.org/
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/