Is Technology Stealing Your Sleep?

Have you ever noticed that in so many iPad and tablet ads people have their feet up while they use their devices? The idea must be that the product is so easy, so relaxing, you could even use it in bed.

People love to use their electronic devices in the bedroom—and who can blame them, when we have so many small gadgets that offer us news articles, e-books, and games in one tiny package? And if you use your smartphone as an alarm clock, chances are high you’re literally going to bed with some form of electronic device—and you aren’t alone. 
 
In fact, the latest National Sleep Foundation poll found that 95% of Americans use some kind of electronic device within an hour before going to bed. Beyond those annoying blinking lights, using technology can interfere with getting good sleep in a couple of ways:

  • The light from screens from electronics like netbooks and phones could prevent your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that is produced naturally in darkness and helps regulate sleep
  • Reading exciting news articles or playing games keeps your mind very active, making it difficult for you to relax and be ‘ready’ to fall asleep
  • Using these devices brings the rest of your life into the bedroom, and as I’ve said before, the bedroom should be a sanctuary reserved for sleep
Teenagers are almost twice as likely as their parents to use something like their phones before bed—over half of the teenagers in the poll said that they text right before bed. Some people send so many text messages right before bed that they even begin to text in their sleep!
 
How often do you use a smartphone or computer right before bed or even in bed? Do you think it may be impacting your quality of sleep or your ability to fall asleep? If so, try limiting your use before bedtime and put the computer and phone to bed in another room and see if that helps. If you have a teenager in the house, try to limit their use of their cell phones as much as possible before bedtime—the poll also showed that teenagers are the most tired group, and most sleep specialists recommend teenagers get as close to 9 hours of sleep a night as possible. Institute an electronic curfew – for everyone.
 
It’s hard, I know – so much of what we do every day involves using one or more of these devices, and it’s really amazing what they can do for us, including making our lives productive and efficient. We just need to make sure that they aren’t stealing our sleep in return.
 
 
Sweet Dreams, 
 
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™
Everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep™
twitter: @thesleepdoctor
2 replies
  1. hank
    hank says:

    Great to see this getting widely known.
    I hope in time to stop the rush to bright blue-white LED streetlights.
    Go with turtle-safe lights, and you’ll get lamps covering the range people need to begin the change to sleepiness.
    I put everything I knew useful about light and sleep in the responses to the article at this blog http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/03/12/light-and-dark/ (with a hat tip there, follow the link to Janet Raloff’s articles)
    Short answer: indoors
    Rosco #312 Canary gel filter
    blocks UV, blue, and down to 400nm;
    blocks most of the range between 400 and 500nm.
    http://www.rosco.com/includes/filters/SED.asp?titleName=R312:%20Canary&imageName=../../images/filters/roscolux/312.jpg
    Short answer: outdoors, it depends:
    http://www.nbc-2.com/story/14655564/2011/05/16/lights-out-turtle-nesting-season-underway

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