5 Ways Technology is Messing Up Our Sleep

Posted on by admin | in longhorn

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but just how important is it? Well, according to Dr. David F. Dinges of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the first signs of lack of sleep are irritability and moodiness. If the person continues to not get enough rest, they will eventually start to experience apathy, slowed speech and flattened emotional responses, impaired memory, and an inability to be novel or to multitask. If you still do not take notice and get some shut eye, then what comes next can be physically disastrous. As you near the point of falling asleep on your feet, you will experience micro-sleeps of approximately 5 to 10 seconds. Those seconds mean that you can nod off while driving or doing other dangerous activities and drastically increase the risk of getting into an accident and harming yourself or another person.
At this point, you might be wondering what the correlation is between a lack of sleep and technology. Did you know that staring at a brightly lit screen or performing vigorous mental or physical activities an hour before trying to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep, or enter REM sleep, which is the kind of deep sleep that your body needs? Also, your body needs uninterrupted sleep to be fully rested and refreshed. Recently, a poll taken by the National Sleep Foundation found the following uses of technology that can impact sleep:
1. Television

Watching television an hour or less before bedtime means that not only are you staring at a brightly lit screen, but chances are you are watching something that gets your adrenaline pumping, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are the people guilty of this:

  • 67% of Baby Boomers (age 46-64)
  • 63% of Generation X (age 30-45)
  • 49% of Generation Y (age 19-29)
  • 50% Generation Z (age 13-18)

2. Computer

Playing games, reading emails, and even doing work on your laptop, desktop, or iPad is a recipe for sleeplessness. If you have to read on your electronic device then try turning the screen down as low as possible to reduce backlight exposure. Darkness signals to your brain that it is time to wind down.

  • 61% of people use a computer an hour before bed at least a few nights a week
  • 47% of Generation Y and 55% of Generation Z use the computer every night

3. Video Games

Playing a video game is a great way to have fun, but not such a great way to get a good night’s sleep. Who plays games just before bed? You might be surprised:

  • 12% of Baby Boomers
  • 15% of Generation X
  • 36% of Generation Y

4. Cell Phone

We all love to text our friends and family good night, but doing so right before bed time means more time spent staring at a tiny, glowing screen. Who is guilty of this sleep faux pas?

  • Only 5% of Baby Boomers
  • 15% of Generation X
  • 42% of Generation Y
  • 56% of Generation Z

5. Woken Up

Like I said before, getting a full night’s rest without interruption is the key to waking up rested and refreshed. However, many of us are awoken several times a week by phone calls, texts, email, or notifications. I think it is time to put the phone on silent for these groups:

  • 20% of Generation Y and 18% of Generation Z are woken at least a few nights a week

These statistics shed new light on our sleeping and technology habits. What bad habits are you guilty of that mess with your sleep? Are you getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep every night, uninterrupted? What can you change to help your body get the sleep it needs?


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