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Balancing A, B, Cs and Zs

Published in Sleep Medicine, For the Health of It Author: Jennifer Miller,PhD,DBSM

Should you go with a starting word that contains as many vowels as possible? Is there anything more frustrating than a word that contains the same letter multiple times? And what should you do when you have only a couple guesses left, but multiple possibilities — like flake, flame or flare?

If this is all Greek to you, then you haven’t been introduced to Wordle. Or Worldle. Or Nerdle. This past year, these types of games have seen a huge increase in popularity — due to the ability to share one’s results with friends and family on social media.

Browsing Facebook or Twitter. Getting caught up on the news. Seeing how the Twins game finished. Smartphones and their ability to disrupt our sleeping schedules is not a new development. Wordle — and other online games that release a new puzzle overnight — are only the latest online trend that may interrupt one’s sleep.

The reality of our current age is that many have work, family or other commitments that makes sleeping apart from their phones impractical. However, avoiding one’s phone completely overnight requires an intense amount of self-discipline. The tips below can also help you establish a healthy sleep routine:

  • Know Your Number. First, the facts. Adults need an average of 8 hours of sleep per night. Teenagers need an average of 9.25 hours per night. There are a number of health impacts — increased blood pressure, weakened immune systems, weight gain, etc. — from not getting enough sleep.
  • Adjust Your Mode. No, we don’t mean easy or hard mode in Wordle. If you do use screens or electronic devices in the evening, make sure to adjust your settings to turn on night mode. This can reduce or the eliminate the blue light exposure, which can disrupt your sleep cycle, possibly lead to macular degeneration and heighten one’s anxiety.
  • Do No Disturb. While we are mentioning phone settings, on one’s smartphone you also can schedule Do Not Disturb mode at a set time each night. You can also allow certain people or apps to still call or send you messages when Do Not Disturb is activated.
  • Model Your Behavior. When not needed, consider keeping your phone somewhere other than in your bedroom at night. Adults modeling this behavior can also help teach kids how to have the right relationship with their devices and screens. This also applies to having a television in one’s bedroom, which also is not healthy for one’s sleep health.
  • Know When to Take a Break. If you do wake up at night and you cannot go back to bed in 20-30 minutes, get up, go to another room and don’t bring your smartphone. Getting frustrated or upset at being awake doesn’t help. Try to relax, read, or listen to quiet music until you feel sleepy.