Modern technology has done wonders to the way we think about sleep, but it’s also had some detrimental effects on our overall sleep hygiene. In one poll conducted by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 90% of Americans report using technology an hour before going to bed at night.
The reason this statistic is troubling is that researchers have found time and again that the blue light present in our phones can suppress melatonin production, an essential sleep hormone that allows us to regulate our inner body clocks.
So does technology hurt more than it helps our sleep cycles? We’ve covered everything you need to know about how to optimize your sleep hygiene habits for better sleep, from finding the best mattress for a good night’s rest, to the best sleep trackers for your wellbeing. Here’s the lowdown on how technology affects your sleep:
How Tracking Your Sleep Can Help You
Sleep tracking technology has improved exponentially to include details on your sleep cycles, sleep duration, and even sleep hygiene habits. They’re a useful tool for those who do have trouble sleeping to be able to pinpoint wider patterns in their sleep routine.
There are a few ways sleep trackers can actually be a deeply beneficial way to keep your sleep hygiene in check. Many sleep trackers, such as Sleep Cycle and Sleep Score, allow you to set goals for the amount of sleep time and duration, which can keep you accountable and allow you to see how often you’re actually getting a full eight hours of sleep every night.
Wearable sleep trackers are a seamless way to try and improve your sleep hygiene and are especially useful if you’re trying to gauge how much of an impact your sleep set-up has on your rest. The best mattress companies tend to have trial periods you can make use of before fully committing.
Figuring out if the best mattress for you is made of memory foam, spring, or a hybrid version of the two will be made that much easier if you have solid numbers letting you know what’s been giving you better sleep at night. If you’re convinced you already have the best mattress for your sleep, regardless of what the trackers say, they’re still a good way to gauge how effective other sleep tools such as weighted blankets, pillows, and even sleep machines might be.
Understanding the reasons behind your sleep patterns can be a powerful way to shape them in a positive way. The more advanced technology gets, the more accurate your readings are. Many sleep trackers will also provide suggestions as to how you might be able to improve your sleep, so if you’re feeling frustrated or even the best mattress isn’t cutting it, there are still other options.
Why Your Phones Can Distract From Sleep
If sleep trackers are an example of the ways in which technology might actually help improve our sleep, using your phone right before you go to bedtime is an example of when this doesn’t. The blue light present in most digital screens – phones, tablets, and TVs – can all suppress melatonin, the hormone your body relies on for regulating its sleep cycle.
Using your phones in bed or even close to bedtime also leads to an increased sense of alertness. If you’re watching a video on Youtube or spending time reading a news story on Twitter, you aren’t giving your brain the time to decompress before you wind down for the day.
Technology can also disrupt your sleep simply by sending you notifications and alarms while you’re in the middle of your rest. Around 72% of children aged six to seventeen sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom, which can result in an average about an hour’s worth of sleep that gets lost every night.
How To Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
While it’s clear technology can do a lot of damage to your sleep patterns, having a more disciplined approach to your sleep hygiene will allow you to make the most of the sleep technology at your disposal.
Your sleep hygiene refers to the practices and habits that you’re engaged within the lead up to going to bed. Poor sleep hygiene choices include scrolling through your phone close to bedtime, eating a heavy meal right before you go to sleep, and drinking alcohol can all actually worsen your sleep cycle.
Finding sleep hygiene practices that work for you requires a little bit of trial and error. If you think your trouble sleeping arises from a spike in stress, then it makes sense to try and add some calming rituals in the leadup to your sleep. Alternatively, you might be experiencing discomfort as you try to fall asleep, due to chronic pain or an old bed.
Finding the best mattress for your sleep is a crucial element of maintaining healthy sleep hygiene habits. The best mattresses for those looking to improve their sleep hygiene should have a good balance between comfort and support. Memory foam mattresses are popular for this very reason.
Not only is memory foam the best mattress for anyone looking for pressure relief in their sleep, but they’re also a great option for those who share their beds with a partner. Tend to get woken up by your significant other’s tossing and turning? The motion isolation capabilities present in most of the best mattresses ranked by consumer reports ensure you’re going to be sleeping easily through the night.
Ultimately, the technology you use can impact your sleep positively or negatively depending on the power you give it. Making the effort to invest in tools like the best mattress or wearable sleep tracker will go a long way in improving your general sleep cycle, as will making sure you’re doing your best to have a healthy sense of sleep hygiene. By setting proper limits, staying away from your phone closer to bedtime, and monitoring trends in your general sleep cycle, you’ll be able to leverage all the exciting technology we have at our fingertips to access a healthier, more balanced version of yourself.