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The scary effects of technology on sleep – Part 1

Sleep hygiene checklist for mental and physical health

18 Jul 2023
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The scary effects of technology on sleep – Part 1

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Catching up on your favourite drama or scrolling through social media sounds like the perfect activity to chill before bedtime, but these seemingly innocent actions can actually be very destructive to your sleep quality. Scientific research has shown that technology can indeed disrupt your sleep – here’s how it works:

1. Blue light emitted

You may have heard of the “blue light filter” on your digital devices, a special setting designed to reduce the amount of blue light emitted from your phone. This blue light isn’t actually blue per se; it’s simply the type of light that digital devices with screens tend to produce. Blue light interferes with your body’s production of melatonin – the hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy. This is why exposure to excessive amounts of blue light via devices like smartphones makes it hard to fall asleep or even stay asleep.

2. Electromagnetic radiation

Apart from emitting blue light, our technological devices also emit electromagnetic radiation, such as those via Wi-Fi signals. This scientifically proven phenomenon affects our sleep the same way blue light does – by destabilising our body’s melatonin balance and causing us to feel awake at bedtime.

3. Emotional stimulus

The activities we engage in with our digital devices can be keeping us awake by stimulating our brain to stay alert and focused. Playing video games definitely gives that adrenaline rush that keeps your brain way too stimulated for sleep. Even other seemingly innocuous activities can be responsible for keeping your brain in a wakeful state, such as having online conversations or watching a funny video.

4. Noisy notifications

Some of us don’t have the habit of turning off the notifications feature of our phones when we sleep. While some will be able to sleep right through the noise, the bleeps and vibrations can end up being a disturbance and cause you to wake up one too many times.

Technology can interfere with your sleep in a variety of ways even if you don’t realise that your sleep is being disrupted, you will probably experience some of the following effects of not having enough quality sack time.

1. Lethargy

Feeling sluggish during the day despite getting sufficient hours of sleep is a sign that you weren’t getting enough restorative (deep) sleep, resulting in low energy levels and an overall sense of exhaustion.
2. Difficulty concentrating and poorer memory
A lack of deep sleep has profound impacts on your mental energy and cognitive functions as well. This translates into problems concentrating and staying focused, as well as difficulty remembering or recalling certain things. If you are at work or at school, this mental exhaustion will definitely come as a setback to your productivity levels.

3. Irritable mood
Sometimes you just feel that everything (and everyone) gets on your nerves for no obvious reason. Chances are you didn’t just wake up on the wrong side of bed – you just haven’t been getting enough quality sleep. In the long run, disrupted can lead to severe sleep deprivation problems and even result in sleep disorders such as insomnia. Prevention is always better than cure, so it's always a good idea to take active steps to minimise the disrupting effects of technology on your sleep cycles. There are three simple ways you can go about managing your technology usage and sleep patterns at the same time: keeping a sleep journal, using technology to help you sleep better and practicing good bedtime habits.
Maintaining a record of your sleep habits is the simplest way to increase your level of awareness with regards to technology's impact on your sleep hygiene. All it involves is that you keep a log of:
1. What time you go to bed
2. What time you actually fall asleep
3. Any unusual sleep occurrences such as waking up during the night
4. What time you woke up
5. Any naps you took
6. Any sleep-affecting activity such as consuming caffeine and alcohol

The scary effects of technology on sleep

The simple act of jotting this information down will make it much easier for you to track if you are getting enough sleep and identify factors that are affecting your sleep. If you're conscious about paper usage, you can make use of the many sleep tracking apps available on your smartphone! Sleep journal apps work the same way as paper ones do and are perhaps even more convenient as you don’t have to keep a book handy all the time or worry about running out of space. Sleep affects growth and stress hormones, blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Make sure you are getting six to eight hours of sleep per 24-hour period. Stay protected with our health insurance plans.

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