Ways Technology Affects Sleep

Technology has been developing over the past years through smart phones, tablets and other devices. It has impacted the human brain, the way people sleep and the duration of sleep. Studies are conducted to show young adults why these devices impact sleep today.

Over the past 50 years, the average persons sleep duration and quality has decreased consequencing the general health on people. The brain goes through a certain process to create a longer duration of sleep and better quality of sleep with the timing of sleep to be aligned with the timing of the circadian clock. The circadian system is a timing system which syncs a number of internal physiological and biochemical processes, one in which is the daily rhythm of sleep propensity to the external environmental times such as daylight and nighttime.

One of the major reasons why technology affects the way people sleep is with the blue light from the screens and it’s because, they decrease the productivity of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It is controlled by the human body clock and with the bright blue light on screen it reduces the hormone which affects and shifts the body clock, forcing people to fall asleep much later and to stay asleep. Technology before bed also tricks the brain into staying awake and alerting the brain. Increasing alertness pushes the bedtime to be much later which influences a factor on less sleep than the advised amount of 7-9 hours a sleep a night. The artificial light exposure on technological devices creates alertness and suppresses melatonin and phase-shifts, pushing the body clock to sleep much later.

In the human eye, photoreceptors within the retina, sense between light and darker signalling the brain the status of the brain and alter the circadian rhythm from day and night cycle. This signalling helps alert the brain for the day and to sleep in the night. Technology also affects the timing of REM sleep therefore people do not have the full amount of REM sleep needed and this affects the alertness the following morning.

Mark Rosekind, PHD Former director of the Fatigue Countermeasures Program at NASA Ames Research Centre stated that “One of the most simple but important reasons technology affects our sleep is cognitive stimulation.” Electrical activity and neurones begin to increase as the brain stimulates up whilst watching or playing with technology which is the opposite of what should happen before sleep. The body tenses and results to cortisol – a stress hormone is produced by the adrenal gland, being released and lack of sleep occurs.

It’s also shown that people who have been using more screen time of around 4 hours per day with technology are 3 and a half times more likely to sleep less than 5 hours a night, less than the average need of sleep for the brain and body. It also takes 1 hour more for someone to fall asleep when using technology whereas someone that hasn’t can sleep under 30 minutes.

Technologies becoming more popular within this and the older generation there are many ways of avoiding using technology before sleep as it is affecting and shifting the way the human mind and body works. In conclusion, technology and sleep are not a combination as sleep duration and quality is declining.

References

PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the united States of America, Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness, viewed 14 October 2016, < http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1232.full >.

Sleep – National Sleep Foundation, Sleep-Science: Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep, viewed 14 October 2016, < https://sleep.org/articles/ways-technology-affects-sleep/ >.

National Sleep Foundation, Electronics In The Bedroom: Why it’s necessary to turn off before you tuck in, viewed 14 October 2016, < https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/electronics-the-bedroom >.

ABC News, ‘Teens’ sleep affected by use of mobile phones and computers, study finds’, Web article, 3 Feb 2015, viewed 14 October 2016, < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-03/doctors-confirm-screen-time-affects-teens-sleep/6066078 >.

Hatfield, H 2008, ‘Power Down for Better Sleep’, WebMD, Date Unknown, viewed 14 October 2016, < http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/power-down-better-sleep#1 >

Insight – Sleep 2016, video podcast, SBS ON DEMAND, SBS, Sydney, 11 May, viewed 14 October 2016, < http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/674210371926/insight-sleep >.

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