Survey Suggests Technology Impedes Sleep

Dennis Faas's picture

A recent nation-wide survey investigating sleeping habits has linked the use of technology with insufficient sleep. But the findings may not be that clear-cut.

The details come from the National Sleep Foundation, a non-profit group aiming to tackle sleep-related health issues and thus cut the number of tiredness-related problems. It surveyed 1,500 people aged 13 to 64.

The two most prominent figures are that 43 per cent of those questioned say they rarely, if ever, get a decent night's sleep on weeknights, and that 95 per cent of people use electronic devices in the hour before bedtime.

Technology Devices Infringe on Sleep

A medical researcher involved in the study says there are three ways in which tech devices can infringe on sleep.

One is that devices usually emit light, which reduces the body's ability to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps the body sleep. A second is that the mental stimulation from such devices can leave the brain more active, requiring a greater transition to sleep.

The third reason is a simple matter of time: people may end up using electronic devices for longer than expected, meaning they go to bed later. And in each of these cases, the problem may be made worse by devices being portable enough to take into the bedroom. (Source:

Other findings from the report: in the hour before bed, older adults are the most likely to be watching TV, young adults to be playing video games, and teenagers to be communicating on mobile devices. Around one in ten children said they had been woken up by a text message alert after going to bed. (Source:

Connection Between Technology and Sleeplessness Unclear

The big problem with the figures reported from the survey is that they don't necessarily prove a strong link between technology and sleeplessness.

For example, with 95% per cent of people using technology before bedtime, it's virtually impossible to say if that is or isn't a factor: the proportion of people who don't use technology is really too small to tell us if there is any difference.

And while there is clearly a much wider range of technology available today, even if you only use at television or radio, it must surely be many decades since most people weren't watching or listening to something in the hour before bedtime.

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