Know How Technology Ruins Your Sleep


Technology is a constant part of our lives, and it’s safe to say that this is just the beginning. Everybody has a smartphone and a laptop these days. It is easy to understand why technology took over our existence throughout the decades: we only need it. It helped and still helps us do things that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

It may not seem so, but technology, with all its integrant components (laptops, PCs, tablets, Kindles, smartphones) has taken a toll on our sleep, as well. All of these devices can be blamed for restless, scant nighttime re spite. In the following, we will see how technology affected our sleep and what we can do to correct the situation.

How Technology Affects Our Sleep

In lines with a survey conducted by Pew Research Center last year, 72% of people own a smartphone, and 89% use the Internet, and this in the United States alone. According to some statistics presented by The Statistics Portal, 2.1 billion people in the world owned a smartphone in 2016, and the number is expected to climb to 2.5 within two years from now.

Now, that number can be translated as 2.5 billion people who have or will have sleep problems in the future. Here are some of the things that account for this assertion:

1. We cannot wake up without a ringer anymore


In a sense, we’ve got accustomed to setting the alarm on our smartphones. That would not be a problem if some of us would not have gotten up a few times per night to see what time it is. The ringer instills this fear that we’ll oversleep – which we will often do because we are too tired from waking up during the night and staring at the screen.

People are addicted to their ringers in the morning. And to hit “Snooze,” as well. The sound of the ringer is associated with forceful awakening. The fact that the vast majority of people are so angry and grumpy in the morning is to be blamed on smartphones and their alerts. It may sound far-fetched, but it is not.

2. We tend to fall asleep while watching something on our PCs or laptops


We try to explain ourselves that it’s so much easier to fall asleep with something running in the background. While that may be true, watching a movie before going to bed damages one’s eyes. Did you ever wake up feeling like your eyes were about to explode in their sockets?

That’s due to the amount of radiation from the screen. Moreover, we go in and out of sleep when something is running in the background. Extended wakefulness, too, is a problem that stems from this. Our brain tries to stay awake in spite of all the impulses it gets from our body.

Sleep deficiency is a real problem of the modern world, and it affects teenagers more than it affects adults because of the former use gadgets a lot more. A study published in the BMJ Journals has shown that the use of smartphones one hour before bedtime influences the SOL (sleep onset latency) – people who use them will fall asleep later than those who do not.

3. We must check Social Media one last time before bed


A collective author wrote in a research article that around 90% of Americans use a device, be it smartphone or laptop, one hour before bed. The researchers continued their endeavor by associating the use of technology in the bedroom with certain changes in the sleeping patterns.

The fact that many of us have to check our Facebook or another social platform before going to bed is already yesterday’s news. It disrupts the ordinary course of our sleep and often makes us irritated and angry in the morning.

Moreover, toying around with a device before bed shortens the duration of the sleep, especially in children.

4. The bedroom is full of lights


It’s a fact that humans need darkness to sleep properly. When the screen of the smartphone lights up, we usually wake up unintentionally, as if we were connected with the device. It, too, affects our sleep, because the light decreases our sleepiness, as shown in this extensive study.

Moreover, the brain gets active when it should be anything but. It will prolong the period you need to fall asleep again. In some cases, you will not be able to do it at all, and you’ll stare at the ceiling for hours.

5. We are awakened by message alerts and ringtones


As found in a source, we lose minutes of our sleep due to answering our phones during the night and replying to messages. Students and teenagers are more likely to do these than adults. Nothing can be more nerve-wracking than settling for sleep and the phone going off in a cascade of beeps.

It is not only incredibly annoying, but it will cause psychological changes in the long run. Why do people answer to phone calls and reply to messages when they should be sleeping? First of all, they grew accustomed to doing it. It’s a reflex more than anything else. Second, of all, the smartphone is close to them.

It will implicitly mean the light of the screen will blind them when they open their eyes and try to make something out of the messages or the caller ID.

6. We read Kindles instead of paper books


It’s true that this is not a general behavior yet, even more so since the use of Kindle has plummeted in the recent years. It is particularly damaging to one’s eyes and one’s extended period of wakefulness.

The eyes strain more when reading on a technological device than when reading in a book. When reading is done in the dark, the problem is all the more dangerous. Remember when you read under the blanket with a flashlight as a child, and your parents took it away from you?

There was an excellent reason for them to do that: so you won’t destroy your eyes. It applies to reading on a Kindle in the dark, as well. The light of the screen has a huge impact on your eyes, and before you know it, you’ll need glasses.

We’ve seen a few ways in which technology affects the naturalness of our sleep. We are all more or less guilty of using smartphones before going to bed. But in the light of these new pieces of information, is there something we can do to change our behaviors? Of course. Let’s take a look at some recommendations in this sense.

How To Use The Technology Wisely

Fundamentally, sleep will not be affected by the use of technology if the latter is done reasonably and certain safety precautions are implemented in one’s lifestyle. It has been asserted that approximately 37% of Americans got in their cars feeling sleepy, which can be blamed on the use of technology before bedtime.

Teens are in the most immediate danger of ruining their sleep schedules due to use of smartphones and tablets before going to bed. They have a lot more energy than adults, but that energy is ill-spent. The following pieces of advice can be employed both by teenagers/students and adults. It is what one should do if technology interferes with a good night’s sleep in any way:

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    Refrain from using your smartphone before bed: Easier said than done most probably, but it is a necessity, not an option, especially when sleep is extremely scant. It is known that using a device before going to bed does exactly what the body doesn’t need at that particular moment: it increases neurological processes. The SOL will be even greater in this case.
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    Train yourself not to react to message alerts: You are awakened by beeps at night because you’ve accustomed yourself to answer to a phone call or message as quickly as you get it. You need to reverse this damaging behavior. Allow yourself half an hour during the day when you’re not giving attention to your phone. Eventually, your brain will stop being bothered by alerts during the night.
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    Try to fall asleep on music: Most people do it because it helps them get a fantastic sleep. And of course, it is much better to sleep with music in the background than to force yourself to watch a movie when every atom in your body pines for rest. During the recent years, researchers have come up with individual songs that contribute to a good sleep. Delta waves and white noise, for instance, have had positive effects on sleep.
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    Opt for reading a physical book rather than a Kindle: Your eyes are fragile, especially when you strain them in the dark. Reading a paper book can save you from morning headaches and sore eyes. Even in this case, make sure that you have plenty of light in the room and you’re not forcing yourself to read when you’re too sleepy.
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    Put the phone on Vibrate mode: This way, you will not be bothered by alerts and all sorts of other sounds. Ideally, you can turn the phone off completely, then turn it on in the morning, provided you can wake up without an alarm.
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    Do not use your PC or laptop 2 hours before going to sleep: If you do this, your brain will know that it’s time to go on stand-by. The neurological processes that take place inside it will cease their Therefore; you will be able to decrease the SOL and sleep properly.
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    Do not set your smartphone on the highest brightness setting: If the brightness of your smartphone’s screen is higher, the dose of radiation that goes directly into your eyes will also be higher. A medium setting is recommended, especially when the screen of the smartphone is quite large.
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    Unplug devices illuminated with LED: Some persons keep on waking up because of the tens of tiny lights in the room, be them from the speakers, the Chargers or the laptop. Before you go to bed, unplug everything that might wake you up. You’ll be saving on your electricity bill at the same time.

Above are a few tips that can improve your sleep instantly. For an in-depth information, I highly suggest you check our fall asleep guide.

Concluding Remarks

It would not be realistic for anyone to say that technology is inherently bad. It is damaging only if one permits it to be as such. Sleep is one of the most important functions of the body. Rest accounts for everything we do on a daily basis. If the body does not have the energy it requires to do even the simplest of tasks, let alone fuel one for 12-14 hours, it will start malfunctioning.

Unfortunately, plenty of devices like smartphones, tablets, PCs, and laptops interfere with the natural course of sleep. It is up to each of us to stop technological gadgets from ruining it. It is almost impossible to badmouth smartphones or any other devices, for that matter. Just use the technology wisely.

About the Author Jessica Larsen

I am a big advocate that having great sleep is something everyone deserves. With over 10 years of experience in this field, I would love to use this platform as a means to help you achieve a good night's sleep.

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