Thursday, February 6, 2014

Turn Off the [Blue] Light!

It may surprise you to know that most of my roommates in my adult life have actually been kids.  I have shared living space with many adorable and chaotic nieces and nephews (whether by blood or through a pseudo adoption of family friends).  I know the painful horror of stepping on a Lego brick in the dark.  I actually broke my little toe one time on one of my nephew's toy bikes.  I've had save files from video games become overwritten and even had artwork destroyed.

What's even more surprising is that even after all of the annoyances of kids I have to say that I love each of them to bits and pieces.  They are so much fun.  I'm not even a parent!  I'm just an uncle.  I am always amazed at their level of energy.  I would get tired from them just being a roommate, I couldn't imagine the exhaustion of being their parent.

I noticed that with a lot of my little roommates that they sometimes kept up their energy well into the night.  Some of them would even wake up as early as 4am!  Although, I know that part of this is due to child development I've also seen a connection with my personal problem with insomnia.

I've had trouble with sleep ever since I moved up to Utah close to 3 years ago.  My whole life was ahead of me and I was really excited.  I had done so much personal development that I had become a better student and a better man all around.  I made goals and had a fierce determination and optimism to get them done.  (Still do.)  Part of this fed into my insomnia.   I got so excited about life that I just couldn't calm down.

Another part of this was all the assignments I worked on the computer at night.  I wouldn't work on it very late.  I usually turned off my devices about 9pm.  I found out later that the color temperature of LED lights can actually fool your brain into thinking that it still daytime.  Thus, your body keeps releasing chemicals to keep you awake when it's time to go to bed.

Wait a second!  What is the newest form of babysitting out there?  Kindles, iPads, and video games are taking childhood everywhere by storm.  They keep kids occupied and can sometimes even be educational.  (I don't blame parents for using them either.  No tech bashing here--all things in moderation.)  No wonder kids, teenagers, and all of us have trouble sleeping.  Our brains don't understand that it's night time.

Sleep doctors will often talk about practicing good sleep hygiene.  They recommend having a nightly routine to help tell your body that it's time to sleep.  Some stuff is hard to follow though.  Many of them recommend using your bed only for sleep.  Being a single guy, I sometimes use my bed as a couch when I have friends over.  I like to use my bed for reading too.  Not practical.  Also, my computer and cell phone are many times essential for getting homework done at night.  So what are we to do?

Download a light filter for your digital devices.

Free apps like f.lux and Twilight provide normal light during the day and a warm tungsten light at night for your computer/smartphone/iPad so your body will naturally get tired.  Want to get those adorable and exhausting kids of yours to sleep?  Download the free app.  Try it out.  There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to normal sleep cycles and getting a healthy night of sleep.  In addition to these filters on my phone and laptop, I also take some sleeping meds as well.  (Okay, they're actually relaxation meds normally meant for people with aches and pains but it works like magic.)

A good night's sleep is super important.  In fact, it's really important to our Heavenly Father.
"Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated." D&C 88:124
I for one really struggle with this.  I believe our Heavenly Father is understanding and I know that these blessings are available for anyone who observes God's word.  From time to time, it's totally okay to pull an all nighter to have fun or to get something done.  In fact, many artists and podcasters have had some of their best work done in a late night.  (Or hit inspiration at that point.)  It's even okay to sleep for 12 hours if it's something that you need but if you're having trouble getting to or staying asleep, I recommend one of these free apps to turn off the blue light.


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