It seems that rather than facing busy High Streets or shopping centres, consumers are often opting to shop from the sanctuary of their bed – with purchasing up by 31 per cent between the hours of midnight and 6am.
While at the Sleep Council we’re not adverse to shopping online, we are adverse to using your phone or tablet to shop in the middle of the night when you should be sleeping. Using technology stimulates the brain making it harder for you to switch off but also the blue light that emits from these devices messes around with your body’s circadian rhythms by suppressing the sleep inducing hormone melatonin in the brain, which is what we need in order to feel sleepy.
At the beginning of this year Harvard Medical School found that by using technology in the hours before bed we’ve biologically shifted ourselves so we can’t fall asleep earlier but we’re still getting up early. The result is less sleep and less time for the body to recover. Exposure to artificial light, particularly in the evening between the timing of sunset and when you normally go to bed, has dramatically changed the timing of our endogenous circadian rhythms. After 8-10 hours of being awake people start to run out of steam prompting their internal clock to send out a surge of wakefulness that builds until melatonin is produced to supress the circadian system and facilitate sleep.
Losing sleep erodes concentration, alertness and problem-solving ability but also hinders the ability to make smart choices by causing changes to the way our brains function in areas of impulse control and decision making – which could result in purchasing items you wouldn’t necessarily have bought.
So next time you find yourself browsing online shopping sites in the middle of the night, put the phone/tablet/laptop down and think about doing something else – it could be reading, having a warm milky drink etc – not only will your sleep thank you for it, but so will your bank balance!