Taking back your nights: Phones, blue light and sleep deprivation

Taking back your nights: Phones, blue light and sleep deprivation

August 2, 2016 by Stella Petrou Concha

With the rise of technology in Australia, there is a new trend of sleep depravation. Could your phone be the cause and how can you overcome it?


It’s 3 a.m. and you cannot sleep. You’ve tried counting sheep, lowering the room temperature and even lying still for 15 minutes. You’re fast running out of ideas and with a finance career to attend to in the morning, this pattern of sleeplessness is really becoming a drain.

So what’s the problem? Well, it could be your phone.

Blue light’s effect on sleeping patterns

When it comes to phones, Australians are some of the heaviest users. With increasing pressures at work and the general shift towards a more connected workforce, people are using their phones in greater and greater amounts.

Take Deloitte’s 2015 Mobile Consumer report, which surveyed 2000 Australians between the ages 18 and 75. It found Australians collectively glance at their phones over 440 million times a day. With 79 per cent of the population owning smart phones, Australia’s heavy use doesn’t look as if it will be slowing anytime soon.

As it turns out, light that interrupts our sleep can also be bad for our health and with the rise of technology, the blue light emitted by mobile devices is becoming a major problem. The impact of light at night on our wellbeing may even contribute to rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, Harvard Medical School reports.

The issue is that when our sleep patterns are changed, it alters our body’s natural clock – known as our circadian rhythm. While this controls our state of wakefulness, it also governs the individual clocks of our organs and the production of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

Luckily, there are actions and strategies you can use to combat the impact of blue light from smart devices. To help you, we have compiled three ways you can avoid sleepless nights and future health problems.


Is sleep deprivation getting in the way?

Are we ever not on our phones?

1. Just put it down

While it may seem simple, putting your phone away before you go to bed could be just what you are looking for. Speaking to Live Science, Dr Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, said that while getting rid of blue light completely may not be an option, there are more reasonable solutions.

“To prevent sleeping problems, avoid any exposure to blue light 30 to 60 minutes prior to bed. That means, no TV, tablets, computers or smart phones,” he said. “Ideally, you want your environment to be dimly lit so your body can start naturally producing melatonin.”

2. Mitigate the impacts

If you are, like many finance professionals, glued to your laptop, always looking to finish the spreadsheet or email a client, then it might pay off to look for a way to mitigate the impact. One way to accomplish this is through the use of phone applications that can filter out the blue light entirely.

Most of these apps work in the same way. During daylight hours, they do nothing. However, after sunset, they introduce a red overlay to your screen to change its colour temperature.

3. No means no

One of the biggest complaints most finance professionals have is that their bosses or clients just won’t leave them alone. While this comes with the territory, it’s a red flag if it begins to encroach on your ability to sleep.

Setting up off-the-clock times and making sure your clients and employers (including direct reports) are aware of them can help you beat the cycle. Don’t forget to be strong because in this case, the customer is not always right.

Using these quick tips could be enough to help you get your hard-earned rest. With the right amount of determination and discipline, you will soon be fast asleep.

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