Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

Browsing on the phone or binging on Netflix before going to sleep seems to have become an everyday ritual for most of us! But did you know that those addictive on-screen moments can leave you sleepless or cause even greater damage to health? Here are three ill-effects of screen-gazing in the night, which you might have never thought about:
  1. It interrupts your sleep cycle 
Smartphones, laptops and televisions emit a ‘blue light’ that tricks your mind to think it’s daylight. This reduces the secretion of Melatonin, a hormone that readies your body for sleep. This simply means, your body thinks that the sun is out, and stays awake because we are naturally designed to wake up with exposure to sunlight. Gazing at your screen during daytime doesn’t impact sleep in the night because through the day, your body stays awake (well, barring the afternoon naps people take when they are particularly feeling lazy). The solution: Ensure you stay off screens starting from three hours before sleep time.
  1. It distracts you 
You come across a very interesting news or a have many exciting posts on social media, and they are too tempting to ignore, even if you have hit the sleep time. When you take in new information (especially different types of information) immediately before sleeping, your mind needs some time to process it. This is distraction enough for your mind to keep your body from sleeping! 
  1. It disturbs your routine
 When your brain doesn’t properly process the events of a day and isn’t rested enough to function properly the next day, your productivity decrease and you feel restless. This hinders you from taking care of routine tasks on time. Less productive days lead to a pile-up of daily work or study related assignments, which triggers a vicious cycle of stress and sleeplessness. What should parents do? Screen-addiction is common among adults and youngsters, and the latter are probably a much more addicted lot. Responsible adults might be self-conscious enough to take timely measures, but youngsters need adults’ intervention to change their habit. Simply banning phones and laptops during the night might result in a push-back from youngsters. Even worse, if adults don’t set an example, children and teens will never follow their advice. The solution is straightforward: Make sure you stay away from screens at night, allow children an hour or two of screen-time in the evening (three hours before sleep), and in the bargain, ask them to stay away from screens at night.