Sleeping Tips

How technology affects sleep

At the end of every working day, once you’ve spent time with your family, it’s normal to steal some time for yourself. Usually, this time is right before bed, or in bed, and may involve a phone, laptop, or tablet. But what some people may not realise is that they should be winding down later in the evening to create good sleep habits.

Shut off all electronics at least 1 hour before sleep. This especially means mobile phones, which nearly two-thirds of all people ages 18–64 have within reach while they’re in bed.1 Here are a few reasons why, and what you can do instead before bed.

Interruptions to good sleep habits:

  1. Blue light. The light that emits from smartphones2 and e-reader tablets3 is known to significantly suppress your body’s production of melatonin, a key sleep-inducing hormone. Melatonin helps regulate your circadian cycle by making us tired when it’s time for us to sleep. The presence of any light suppresses melatonin, but blue light most of all,4 causing us to doze off slower, creating poor sleeping habits.
  2. Stimulation. The fewer things you have on your mind at night, the faster you can fall asleep. But watching TV, playing games on your phone, or scrolling through social media newsfeeds can stimulate your mind, keeping it alert and thinking rather than calming down for sleep.
  3. Stress. Hooked on Suits or maybe even a little (or a lot of) Cricket? As relaxing as watching TV might seem, research shows that watching someone else’s stressful situation increases your stress levels as well.5 And stress is one of the leading culprits for a poor night’s sleep.6

Good sleeping habits:
If you don’t shut off all electronics an hour before sleep, chances are you’re still pretty alert and awake. So how do you occupy yourself in a way that’s healthy for your sleep? Here are some ideas:

  1. Read a book. While you can probably admit that some books have stressful plots, one study suggests that reading silently for just six minutes can lower stress by up to 68%, more than listening to music (61%), drinking a cup of tea (54%) or walking (42%).7
  2. Jot down your thoughts. If you’ve got a lot on your mind at night, the best thing to do is write them down. That way, your mind no longer has to remember them all, so it can relax and prepare for sleep.
  3. Take a shower/bath. On top of being quite relaxing, taking a shower or bath helps lower your body temperature when you get out, which can help you fall asleep faster.8
  4. Resist the urge to snack. It’s best to finish eating at least 2 hours before bedtime and avoid heavy nighttime meals. That way, most sugars, and other stimulants have time to wear off and your body’s digestive system isn’t still actively breaking down your latest meal, which can certainly keep you awake.


How will you know it’s working?
The most obvious and immediate sign that you’re sleeping better will be the amount of energy and alertness you feel throughout the next day. There are also sleep trackers that can monitor your vital signs as well as room temperature and noise levels while you sleep to show how these factors affect your sleep.

Recognising the sleeping habits hindering your quality of sleep is the first step to understanding how you can improve. Having done this, you can begin to see how other factors affect your sleep, like nutrition and exercise. To start your journey to better sleep, take our Online Sleep Assessment. 

Kate Johnson

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Time and Qualcomm. Where do you keep your phone while you sleep? 2012. Referenced in: Khazan O. How smartphones hurt sleep? The Atlantic. February 24, 2015.



Lanaj K, Johnson RE and Barnes CM. Beginning the workday yet already depleted? Consequences of late-night smartphone use and sleep. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 2014;124(1):11–23.


Chang AM et al. Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Takahashi JS ed. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2014.


Harvard Medical School. Blue light has a dark side. Harvard Health Publications.


Engert V et al. Cortisol increase in empathic stress is modulated by emotional closeness and observation modality. Psychoneuroendocrinology2014;45:192–201.


American Psychological Association. Stress and sleep: The sleep-stress cycle. 2013.


The Telegraph. Reading ‘can help reduce stress.’ March 30, 2009.


Health. 7 bedtime behaviors that will help you sleep.,,20462696_2,00.html

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