With the festive season in full swing, are you in danger of becoming an ‘inshopniac?’
Retail giant John Lewis recently reported that online sales between the hours of midnight and 6am have risen by a huge 31% over the last year, suggesting that we are becoming a nation of ‘inshopniacs’.
Apparently we are buying suits and ties between 2-4am, and shoes and handbags between 5-7am, suggesting that men and women lie awake at different times of the night wondering what to wear the next day!
It comes as no surprise that people tend to buy nursery items at 4am, as this is the time when parents of a newborn are likely to be awake.
But as we approach peak pre-festive online shopping time, it is wise to remember that these habits play havoc with our body clocks and could lead to sleep problems, even in those who do not have a sleep problem to start with.
For those already with sleep issues, the likelihood is that they will make the problem worse. Browsing the internet is very stimulating for the brain, and so is the last thing you should do at night!
What’s making us shop when we should be sleeping?
Is it that we sleep less these days in general, and as a result go online more often to while away the hours (years ago people had to rely on books when they couldn’t sleep), or is it simply that we find it hard to resist going online when we have gadgets allowing us to do so at any time of day.
At John Lewis, Managing Director Andy Street wisely suggested that the increase in night-time online sales is due to the prevalence of smartphones and tablets – they make it so easy to shop while in bed and also fuel our modern need for instant gratification. I think this is probably the case.
My own experience of owning a smartphone (I am hopelessly out of date and have only had mine for a few months), has taught me that although they are tremendously convenient they also require a level of disciple when it comes to using them.
When I first got the phone, I would often lie in bed, about to go to sleep, when something would come into my mind and before long I was ‘just’ googling it or searching for it online. Three hours later, I would have bought all manner of things on Amazon and sent a few emails, ruining my sleep for the rest of the night.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, it is the bright ‘blue’ light emitted by modern gadgets that plays havoc with our brain’s ability to create melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy.
Melatonin is regulated by light, so it naturally starts to be produced as daylight fades. Of course, humans are long past the point of having to go to bed when night falls. For years, we have had electric lights and televisions which in themselves can lead to sleeping issues.
But the blue light that new technology emits is particularly bright, is of an especially damaging wavelength, and also we tend to hold these devices very near our eyes. We can now take them into bed too, all of which adds to a growing insomnia epidemic.
The survey from John Lewis should make us think and be more careful, especially at this time of year. If, at midnight, you remember that you need to buy your brother some novelty socks and decide you will ‘just’ go online quickly to buy them, don’t! You will keep yourself awake longer than you think and may struggle to get back to sleep afterwards.
Similarly if you can’t get to sleep or wake in the early hours, internet browsing is one of the worst things you can do. There are so many better ways of getting yourself to sleep – reading, listening to music, taking a herbal remedy are just a few.
Many experts advise not using computers or smartphones after 9pm – and I admit that this is unrealistic for most people. But you can start by simply turning your devices off when you go to bed and not turning them on again until the morning. I found I was leaving my smartphone on as an alarm clock, so recently bought an old fashioned alarm clock. The smartphone has since been banned from the bedroom and after only a few weeks, I think it has already helped me sleep better.
Are you a inshopniac? If so, what’s the strangest thing you have purchased in the early hours?