How Technology Impacts Sleep

Rebecca Harris, Early Education Writer   •   December 18, 2019

Getting a good night's sleep is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. Both you and your child need regular sleep to keep your brains active and focused throughout the day.  It's especially important for your child, as their brain is growing and developing while they sleep. Digital technology being so entwined in our lives can negatively affect sleep patterns. Here are some ways electronic devices hinder sleep and how you can take steps to avoid it.  
The blue light emitted by screens in everyday technology like cellphones, tablets and televisions obstruct melatonin production. Melatonin is what dictates the body's sleep cycle. Stopping this hormone production makes it harder to fall asleep and decreases the quality of sleep you get during the night. Using technology before bed also keeps your brain engaged when it should be winding down. Watching a show, swiping through social media and even using educational applications with your children can seem harmless after a long day. However, these stimulate your brain and make it harder to shut off before going to sleep.  

Most research recommends avoiding screen time thirty minutes to two hours before going to sleep. This allows the brain to decompress and wind down from the constant stimulation from the day. An even better option is to make your bedroom a space free of technology. Studies have shown that even having cellphones, tablets and televisions in the room can activate your brain. Having these items around can cause the brain to be distracted and focus excessively on that device even if you are not using it.  

It can be hard for some people to imagine relaxing without technology. Watching Netflix with your child or allowing them to play on an app at night seems like an easy way to chill out before going to sleep, but isn't ideal. Instead, try reading a short story or a chapter of a book with them. This will prevent the effects of blue light on you and your child's sleep and provides a moment of bonding between you. Stepping back from your electronics and limiting your child's use before bedtime can help ensure that you both are getting quality sleep and will be ready to take on the next day.