sleep hygiene

How does technology affect sleep?

We are all well aware of the fact that technology is an inevitable part of today’s lifestyle; however the impact of this new tech convenience on our bedroom habits is a bit less evident.

Even though you might not think that you have a sleep problem, technology in the bedroom is reducing your quality of life more thank you think, affecting your overall wellbeing and preventing you to feel and be at your best. So now you’re wondering how does technology get in the way of your good night’s sleep and what can you do about it?

Although there are some positive sides to bringing technology to the bedroom, such as sleeping aids in the form of gadgets that emit soothing sounds and pleasant lighting with the aim of getting us to fall asleep easier and quicker, technology in the bedroom is not always a good idea and it is important to be cautious. On average, our sleep habit awareness level is not at its highest. Although seemingly attractive and comfortable for obvious reasons, brining gadgets into the bedroom has it’s pitfalls as well.

How Electronics Affect Sleep Infographic

Credit: SleepyBliss.com

A closer look at the 3 main factors

If you look at things more closely, you will find that technology and our bodies are not exactly the perfect match and here is why:

Sleep and blue light

1. The high concentration of ‘blue light’ beamed by electronic screens from smartphones, TVs, tablets, e-readers, etc. is more dangerous than one might think. It has the brightest and strongest wavelength, meaning that it has the highest impact on the photo-receptors in our retinas. The brain perceives ‘blue light’ from electronic devices as sunlight. Therefore, it sends signals to our brain that it is daylight and daytime and, therefore, not yet time to sleep. Smart phones and tablets are more dangerous than TVs, because we keep them closer to our eyes.

tired man falling asleep with phone

Sleep and sudden sounds

man waking up to read a message on phone

2. Add to the above the nuisance of unexpected sounds notifying you of all sorts of things, calls, messages and reminders that jolt you awake. Even keeping your phone in silent mode doesn’t prevent invisible electromagnetic cellular and WiFi signals that are constantly being exchanged, thus causing unnoticeable radiation, also contribute to keeping your brain alert, even waking you up if you do manage to fall asleep, and not letting you unwind when you need it the most.

Low-quality sleep is closely linked to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and weight gain. Some researches even show a link between sleep deprivation and heart disease/blood pressure issues. Basically, over-stimulation often occurs, both mental and physical and the body and mind simply become overloaded.

We found this study to be most detailed on the connection between technology and sleep.

How does technology affect sleep hormones?

3. As a consequence of this, your body starts suppressing melatonin, which is the third negative affect of technology in your bedroom. Melatonin is the hormone that controls your wake/sleep cycles, which can cause a mess if more seriously interfered with. Melatonin starts releasing during the night and helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. Delaying melatonin release in the brain will delay falling asleep thus leading to an unsettling night.

You can read more about the connection here.

man unable to sleep

Children, technology and sleep

Children are more sensitive to technology impacting their sleep than adults. Children not getting enough sleep are under the risk of difficulty to focus, process and retain information therefore are at a greater risk of having poor health. Studies have shown that, for example, teenagers who admit to texting and/or e-mailing during bedtime get on average 30min less sleep than their peers who turn their phones off, resulting in daytime sleepiness and poorer performance during their daytime responsibilities.

On the other hand, youngsters often unwind by using just the same technology to engage on social media, play a video game or watch TV. This can create a deception that technology is rather a sleeping aid than a problem. It is not easy for you to explain to your child that technology isn’t so good for them as it seems, when it is recommended for classroom and homework use more and more by the day.

What you can do to help them is, you yourself be a god sleep model, get your kid in the habit of actual paperback reading before bed, try to explain to your child the effects technology has on his or her sleep and do your best at reorganizing your child’s daily schedule with the aim of squeezing in more sleep time.

child with a smartphone preparing for sleep

Actually, we can soon come to a conclusion that technology is a tempting, yet disruptive addiction. The inevitable, learnt association is that the bed is not a place for sleeping but rather for studying, working or socializing…everything it’s not meant for!

Piece of advice

At least half-an-hour prior to falling asleep, give technology a break! No iPhone, iPad, iMac, iWatch…or you will end up with ‘I can’t sleep’. Statistics say that at least 90% of people uses technology during their before bedtime routine. There’s no special recipe for leaving technology outside the bedroom – just put it down and let it go. Sleep is underestimated. Although many people think that time spent sleeping is dispensable, psychological facts say that it is quite the opposite.

Bottom line & takeaways

technology is not the best companion in the bedroom…still, we cannot act like it doesn’t exist. What we can do is use it responsibly and to our advantage. For example, technology has enabled improvement in the mattress industry by providing online availability to numerous options offering a great variety of products.

This has made sleep products ever so available, affordable and attractive. Sleep trackers and smart beds are becoming increasingly popular. Technology will even help you find information and articles such as this one, informing you on how to improve sleeping conditions.

Technology, if used properly, can enhance our lives and can be a good servant, otherwise it can take over and become a bad master. This goes for all technology, whether used in the bedroom or out.

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