Does technology negatively or positively affect sleep?
Generally speaking, in terms of sleep, technology often plays a negative role. Electronic devices emit a strong light that can interfere with the sleep regulation hormones, causing one to gain insufficient rest over night; and this is only perpetuated when devices are used in the dark. Not only are they harsh on the eyes, but the use of technology before bed can also lead to cognitive stimulation. Being active on your phone, computer or video games late at night, will increase electrical activity in the brain and this is not conducive to falling asleep.
In a psychological sense, working on a computer or addressing emails late into the night can bring to mind all the things you have yet to complete and any concerns or stress related to work. Then when you feel drowsy and think it’s time to sleep, you may find that your mind isn’t at rest because of all these tasks flickering in your brain. This will ultimately prolong the time it takes to fall asleep and can produce the onset of negative feelings such as anxiety and frustration.
The best remedy for this is to simply switch off all electronic devices well before bedtime, and try to avoid keeping any technology in the bedroom.
But can some gadgets actually promote sleep?
There are many sleep-related devices in our world today that are becoming more common as the technology realm continues to grow and address our required needs. Some of these gadgets are in fact helpful in promoting sleep and better rest.
Most of these devices focus on the relaxation of the body and soothing of the mind in order to feel comfortable when attempting to fall asleep. They also take into consideration outside factors such as city noises, sun sets and rises to help you ease your way into a deep sleep or calmly wake you in the morning.
Some of these sleep devices include;
Smart alarm clocks
On easy way to get a good sleep routine is by having a consistent bedtime and rise time. This can be hindered; however; by constantly watching your alarm clock at night, disrupting your sleep.
The smart alarm clock is a device that hides the clock face to stop this habit. Some models can also remind you when to wind down before bed by simulating a fading light to reflect that of the sun setting, and when to wake up by simulating the sunrise accompanied by light bird noises. This helps to provide a natural production of sleep hormones that is gently and won’t upset the mind.
White noise machines
For those who live in big cities, urban noise can be quite disruptive to a good nights sleep. Sirens, car horns, even neighbours can all contribute to interruptions during sleep, or prevent sleeping all together. White noise machines produce soothing sounds such as rain, beach waves or simply just white noise. The sounds remain repetitive and tranquil so to allow no disruptions to the mind whilst sleeping or falling asleep. Fade out settings are also available so that the noise only remains on during the period of falling asleep.
The dreampad is another sound relaxation device built into a pillow. However, the dreampad also offers slight relaxing vibrations through the electrical signals of music. The natural conductivity of human bones allows these vibrations to carry through to the inner ear which is an essential part to blocking out unwanted noise. Furthermore, the device is also connected to the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) which plays a large role in relaxation responses. By stimulating this area, the body is likely to become more relaxed, and therefore aid the production of sleep.
Some research evidence into sleep shows that certain aromas can help individuals to relax and fall asleep. It is thought that some scents, such as lavender, act as a relaxant before sleep. Scentee is one of the many devices which you can attach to your Smartphone and set an app that releases a relaxing aroma prior to bedtime to enhance the odds of a better nights sleep.
So yes or no to technology before bed?
While most of these devices prove helpful in promoting sleep, their effectiveness is no different nor better from that of practising good sleep routines and awareness. Reliance on sleep aids can reduce ones confidence and ability to fall asleep naturally, which can prove difficult later in life. Perhaps, the simplest methods, such as setting a consistent bedtime and rise time, switching off all electronic devices before bed and relaxing before sleep can be just as helpful to obtaining regular and efficient rest.