Technology – How it affects your sleeping behavior

I think we can all relate to watching a movie in bed just before you go to sleep, checking facebook, or whatsapping your girl/boyfriend just as you were about to close your eyes. Playing FIFA 15 until 2 in the morning and then having problems to sleep. Technology is embedded in our last moments before we go to bed. However we never thought about any kind of consequences this could have to our sleep. But if you knew the impact of this, would you still do it?

Scientist’s research of American institutions of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that using technology just before bedtime significantly alters our body clock. It can affect sleep deprivation and lack of sleep as well as job performance, mood and even your sex life!

Charles Czeisler, which is a scientist at the Harvard Medical School, claims that artificial light just before bedtime increases our metabolism and decreases the making the hormone which is responsible for sleep: melatonin. By watching your ipad for 2 hours, you reduce your melatonin production by 22%.

Other serious sleep-detractors are videogames and television. Not only because of the artificial light (see previous section) but also because it can increase your heart rate. Videogames in it’s turn, lowers both the quantity of sleep (see previours reasons) and the quality of sleep. Sleep can be divided into two categories: REM sleep and non-REM sleep. Videogames negatively affect the REM sleep, which is responsible for dreaming. So the more you game, the less you dream. Easy choice isn’t it?

Personally, I always check my Whatsapp and Facebook before I go to bed. However, I have never thought about any consequences. Do you guys have rituals which involves technology just before you go to bed? And having read this blog, are you still planning on doing so?



9 responses to “Technology – How it affects your sleeping behavior”

  1. 351052ldv says :

    I always checked my Facebook when I woke up. Sometimes I stayed in bed half an hour using apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Voetbalzone and The same goes for before bedtime. Also during the day it took a lot of my time and attention. With more and more articles about the downsides of social media and the constant interaction with technology I decided to delete my Facebook account and the app Voetbalzone on my mobile phone. It improves my focus and I am happy to not be that guy who is always checking his phone.

    About the rituals before bedtime, I like to play a game on the PS4 with my friends or watch a movie. I do notice a difference between them in terms of sleeping behavior. Watching a movie doesn’t influence me as strong as playing a game. I can totally understand how it decreases the quantity of my sleep. During work- or schooldays I try to prevent playing video games just before bedtime and I did need a helping hand for this like the article to remind me about it. I think it is important to help people understand the effects of technology on for example sleeping behavior, especially for children.

    If someone like to comment as well, I am curious about your thoughts about corporate responsibility on this topic. When I see little children (or adults) using their phone constantly it makes me worried.

  2. 359209jr says :

    Interesting blog. I read this issue in another newspaper also and it caused me to raise the same concerns. I think we are so attached to our phones, tablets, laptops that it is not easy to put them away, way ahead of time before going to bed. Usually I am still busy on another assignment, or reading papers for the next lecture. However, apart from that I also find myself simply scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. Most of the times I scroll because I am bored but most of all because it is a habit. Right before going to bed or after I get up, I always tend to do the same; and afterwards I always remember myself to stop doing it. After this article, I am really more conscious about using or even putting my phone next to me on my pillow. I always knew it was a waste of time but the health implications really opened my eyes. Usually it takes people 21 days to break a habit. I am currently trying to grasp on this by not using my phone for 21 days, before going to bed. Maybe a tip 🙂

  3. timvannieuwaal says :

    First of all I am also guilty of spending to much time on staring at that bright little screen before bed, checking what’s app a final time or playing a quick game.
    However considering the fact that the title if this post is “how techonology influences your sleeping behavior I would also like to shed some light on the upside of technology related to sleeping behavior.

    Because one of the application I use before going to bed is called sleepcycle which is an application that helps you wake up more rested. The way this application does that is by registering how much you move in your sleep and relating that to certain sleep fases. you then set your alarm within a certain range and the application wakes you when you are most awake during that period. This technology was a fantastic find for me and helped me in my struggle against 9 am classes.

    I personally will not change my attitude towards using technology right before I go to bed, because besides these negative effects I think it is also a way to unwind for a lot of people. Which is also very important. That being said its good to know about the effect and if I ever notice my sexlife is going down the drain. Ii’ll be the first person to grab a book instead of my mobile phone!

  4. Bozhidar Bahov, 420198 says :

    For me this is not a new information. I read similar articles on the subject and despite that I always watch a TV show before going to sleep or read my e-book. It just helps me get rid of the stress from the day and prepare to go to sleep a little bit more relaxed. Although I know it is unhealthy I like doing it.

    However, what I like to mention is another topic related to what you are discussing. Several days ago I found an interesting analysis in the Internet. According to some scientists when you do something just before falling asleep, it significantly increases your understanding of the subject. No matter if it is a TV show, a book or study material. The explanation is that while sleeping the brain sorts the information accumulated throughout the day, makes necessary connections to understand the subject and decides what to be stored in long-term memory. By reading a book or studying for a while just fore going to sleep it greatly increases the chances of your brain to make connections and memorize it.

    I personally find it strange to study just before going to sleep and I don’t think I’d like to have such a habit. However, maybe the two topics are related in the sense that if you play a game before going to bed your brain tries to sort the data you acquired and thus it has a hard time to proccess the dynamic nature of games and TV.

  5. 360138sw says :

    Interesting topic for a blog post. I mostly agree with what Bozhidar mentions in his comment. Personally I always do some activity involving technology just before going to bed, whether it being playing a videogame, watching television or just simply browsing my phone a bit. I have to mention that I personally do not experience any form of sleep deprivation because of this, or at least I think so. I would even like to argue that I would sleep better when having just finished up the last bits on my computer or phone, because it gives a certain sense of fulfilment and completeness, in which I might not be the only one. Regarding studying just before going to bed I think that for many people (including myself) this would only be a huge constraint on being able to sleep. I have tried this several times during the past (both due to the lack of time and also because of planning it in that way) and I have always experienced that sleeping right after having studied some heavy material will only cause me to sleep more unstable. In turn, when I did the studying and then watched some television for 30 minutes afterwards, or just any other activity related with technology, I would be totally fine. Maybe I’m stating the obvious now, but I’m wondering if more people can recognise themselves in this?

  6. 357114ma says :

    This is such a thought provoking topic!

    Ironically, I just watched a youtube video which was talking about how the blue light from your computer screen, or basically any type of lit screen, has a negative impact on your sleep because it imitates the broad daylight. (I say this while typing a blogpost at quarter to ten…) This is probably also related to the reduction of the Melatonin production you mention in your post. Somewhere along the past few years I had also read somewhere that watching TV is actually not as relaxing either. It said that, even though we may be thinking that we are relaxing, we are actually getting more tired. Similarly to the previous commenters I would intuitively disagree with this at first as well.

    However, thinking twice, it might not be so wrong after all. Indeed there is nothing that puts me to sleep faster than my study materials. That is physical books, not pdf files. I never thought about it before, but I can actually read articles on my computer screen for a very long time. Not from a book though. As soon as I have to study from a book or a summary, my body seems to “trick” me into thinking that I am extremely tired. And no coffee or energy drink seems to be able to change that.

    There must be a reason why we seem to forget about time while browsing facebook, 9gag or the like. I do think that it is rather unlikely that I start reading a book for three hours without getting tired at some point. Therefore, as much as I’d like to disagree with those researchers, especially because I enjoy the late night discovery trips through the web so much, picking up a book or even a magazine just 30 minutes before going to sleep probably isn’t such a bad idea after all.

  7. 419727 says :

    Interesting topic! I have to admit that I use a lot of devices before I go to sleep. Sometimes I play a few games of FIFA with roommates; afterwards I check the news on the iPad, and just before sleeping a few messages on social media. I knew that it could affect your sleeping behavior, but I didn’t know that it could reduce your melatonin production by 22%.

    However, research also suggests that speed and intensity of our digital lifestyle maybe is useful, in a sense that training on working memory tasks may enhance people’s ability to focus their attention. So perhaps juggling multiple technologies simultaneously enhances our ability to multitask (Korn, 2014).

    Interesting is that researchers aren’t sure yet whether our use of digital devices will have a positive or negative effect. The development of modern technologies has been too fast for research on their effects to keep up. But it should catch up before too much harm is caused (Media, 2013).

    After I have read your blog, I’m going to take a few precautionary measures. Like you already slightly mentioned, Cellphones and computers can interfere with sleep because the screens are so bright they inhibit the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which is produced in dark surroundings. Therefore, I will try to limit the excessive use of screens at night (Smith, 2012). Other research suggests for a better sleeping behavior, that we could read a book under an indirect lamp to help relaxing, listen to gentle or relaxing music that will help drift off and get a sound sleep and reconsider to buy an Ebook reader since they do not have a luminous display. What I will certainly try to do after reading your blog and some extra articles is try to shut down my laptop or smartphone at least an hour before going to bed, since it can help to ensure quality of sleep (Rasmussen, 2012).


    Korn, C. (2014, June 25). Our dependence on digital devices may affect sleep and memory. Opgeroepen op October 10, 2014, van theconversation:
    Media, F. (2013, July 3). How technology affects our sleep. Opgeroepen op October 10, 2014, van Rasmussen:
    Pincus, R. (2014, April 28). Just how serious is technology’s effect on our sleep. Opgeroepen op October 10, 2014, van psfk:
    Smith, N. (2012, August 3). How technology impacts sleep. Opgeroepen op October 10, 2014, van Livescience:

  8. 417858ww says :

    What an interesting topic. Technology actually changes our sleeping behavior, but at least we still end up each day at night. However, for some people, it seems like they start everyday at night. I’ve got a friend who is talkative in virtual society at night, but being sleepy and reticent in the daytime. Sometimes I even wonder who is the real him – the one in virtual society or the one I see in the fresh.

    It’s also funny that I’ve heard of some apps trying to help people sleep in a healthy way.
    (1)SleepBot helps users to track their sleeping patterns. It’s simply a sleep log, but thousands of users say the app changes their life. (2)Sleep Pillow is a self-explanatory app that features a variety of white noises designed to promote relaxation and sleep. (3)Sleep Cycle is a smart alarm clock that monitors users’ movements and wakes users up in their lightest sleep phase.

    Think about one-third of your life is spent in sleeping! I think there is considerable value in this market, and I’m quite curious about what future technologies can do to make profits on our sleeping behaviors.

  9. 344994hr says :

    Interesting posts! Just like you guys i like to check fb/whatsapp before going to sleep and i often watch an episode of whatever series i’m watching at that moment right before i go to bed. I was wondering, is there a way to benefit your sleep and health, but still keep using the same technology i do right now?

    First of all i found that especially blue light seems to be the cause of staying awake at night. This seems to have something to do with Melanopsin, a pigment in your eyes that reacts to a special bandwidth of blue light. The stimulation is somewhat slow but the effects drag on. Using a laptop a few hours before sleeping can delay your total sleep with one hour.
    More on this here: ‘Vandewalle and colleagues wrote in a review … that light exposure reduces alpha, theta, and low-frequency activity, which are correlates of sleepiness. ”

    So how to decrease this problem? f.lux has made a solution seemingly too easy to be true. Just decrease the blue light! ‘F.Lux makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.” I just installed it and it makes my screen yellow/brownish. I don’t really like it yet but i think i’ll get used to it. For at least the next 2 weeks i’ll be using it to see if i notice any difference. Want to try it out for yourself? Check here:

    Want more background information and scientific research?
    Check here:

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