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Tricking the Light Fantastic: Sleeping Under the Glow of Technology

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As technology grows, so does it glow. At night, our constellation of controls can interrupt our sleep with their beacons of neon blue, green, red and other shades and hues rarely seen in nature. Scientists now know our eyes have a light-sensitive layer that signals our body and affects rhythms of wakefulness and sleep. This layer is separate from the part that accommodates our vision.

Unplugging or turning everything off — from laptops and docking stations to Internet routers and cell phones — can be time consuming when powering down and powering back up again. Sometimes turning off the gadgetry is not an option – especially if that gadget is your alarm clock.

While many have resorted to strips, and even layers, of black tape that must be applied and removed each night, others have resigned themselves to rearranging their plethora of plenty to limit the illumination. Blinking lights are especially annoying for the more sensitive among us.

I am an avid sleep enthusiast who is still afraid of the dark. (Don’t you judge me.) While some people wear sleep masks, I love falling asleep to a low-volume episode of Frasier or a viewing of Mixed Nuts (stop it; you’re judging me again). I don’t like waking up in the middle of the night to the unholy glare of the DVD’s main menu, though, which would in turn alert me to the litany of lighthouses around the room like my charging cell phone or my alarm clock.

To dim the excess that paled my wee Cars bedside nightlight (is there no end to your judgment?), I bought a wooden apple crate for the easy access and storage of 10 thick, black washcloths and 10 thick, black hand towels which I use to reign in the rays before I lay down for the night. Some appliances never need to be uncovered. Blinking lights may take a second layer.

I was still left with the TV screen whose light in the middle of the night can be as alarming as a blood-curdling scream. I bought a television with a sleep timer; problem solved. Most TVs come with sleep timers and have for years. If yours doesn’t, and you can’t afford a new one, it’s a good bet that a working TV in a thrift store would have it since the option is old news now.

For those whose TV has no such amenity (and simply can’t afford another TV) or who use their laptop in place of their TV/DVD player to set them slumbering, remember it is the sound you use to lull you listless, not the video itself. Cover it all up before you lay down, and choose a DVD whose main menu doesn’t play an endless loop of sound. There is also the option of a CD that plays sleep-inducing music or sounds of nature. You could use an external sleep timer, but they power everything down to the point of having to reset clocks and reprogram channels.

I don’t recommend leaving the TV on broadcast programming, even with a sleep timer. It’s been my experience that infomercials and any episode of The Flintstones can induce disturbing dreams (which can then interfere with your sleep). This is also why you should choose your DVD wisely. Grumpy Old Men won’t hurt you, but Nightmare on Elm Street sure could.

Sleep tight and sweet dreams!

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.