Is technology before bed hurting you?

It’s a habit we all can’t seem to shake.. checking Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook right before going to sleep. We all need to squeeze in those last minute late night tweets or comment on your girlfriend’s FABULOUS picture, but what is it really doing to our health?

According to research done by the American institutions of the National Sleep Foundation the “dependence on television, mobile phones and computers can be harmful for health.” America, which has become a technology dependent society, is doing more damage than they think. Charles Czeisler, a scientist at the Harvard Medical School suggests that “exposure to artificial light just before bedtime increases the metabolism and reduces the release of melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep.” The light that reflects off a cell phone or television for example affects your sleep because the reflection of light passes through the retina into a portion of the hypothalmus and delays the release of melatonin. Our body requires melatonin before bed.

People are now sleeping less than their body requires and as a result are waking up the next morning feeling drowsy and unprepared for the new day. Social media before bed is the number one thing that causes sleep loss in our society today. Recent studies have linked this insomnia to depression, obesity, lower grades and even problems with regulating emotions.

Specifically, it is recommended to unplug all technology and not check in with any social media at least one hour before going to bed for the night. One hour gives the body enough time to prepare for optimal amount of continuous rest. The National Academy of Sciences conducted a study which led them to gather a dozen adults to participate for a two week period. After gathering the participants they asked half the group to read on an iPad for four hours before bed for five nights consecutively. The other half of the group read a traditional printed book before bed with a dim light setting, after one week the participants switched roles. Scientists had found what was expected, the iPad users had reduced levels of melatonin, it took them longer to fall asleep and even spent less time in restorative REM also known as rapid eye movement sleep. The participants also reported that after eight hours of sleep they still felt tired.

It is important to remember how necessary sleep is to our very being. We are responsible for feeding our body the essentials that it needs. People do not realize that sleep is just as important as nutrition or exercise. Turn the cells phones off and put those computers to sleep before you lay down for the night in order for your body to work to its full potential the next day.


“Kids Should Unplug before Sleep, Study Suggests.” N.p., 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

Dennis, Brady. “IPads, Tablets, Smartphones Disrupt Good Sleep, Study Finds.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 22 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.


8 thoughts on “Is technology before bed hurting you?

  1. Sarah Elizabeth Pettoruto

    I always knew that you should turn off all electronics before going to bed but I did not know the exact risks that come with it. My brother cannot fall asleep without the TV on, however, he has horrible sleeping habits. Possibly because the fact you stated about the retina of the eye? Also, I may have to agree w Holly’s comment. If you are not sleeping enough and spending time on social media I can see how this could affect your grades, but I do not think this is a core variable. I do not understand the obesity portion of it at all, though. Even the article does not give a clear reason why this may be a factor. However, all in all, this was a great post that many kids our age can relate to.

  2. Angelique L Santiago

    I am so happy that you wrote this blog! It’s my nightly ritual to scroll through Instagram and look at snapchat stories, and I have been complaining about not being able to sleep for weeks! I was starting to think that I had insomnia. Thanks to you, I know that my use of social media before bed is delaying the release of melatonin. Now, I know that I should cut back on surfing the web right before bed. I can’t wait to see if there are positive results! You can read more about how using your phones, and electronics in general, before bedtime can detrimental at the following link.

  3. Yu Zhang

    You pick a really good topic, since this is a common problem among us generations. Also, good job demonstrating the scientific studies and explanations instead of merely anecdotes or personal experiences in daily lives. However, the study conducted by The National Academy of Science still needs improvement to be convincing enough. For example, only a dozens of adults are included, so it would be more compelling if the sample size is enlarged. Also, I think four hours of reading on iPad is too long and it’s not the normal case. Plus, what if our bodies are not influenced to the extent of reducing the release of melatonin, but because four hour is so long that the body is provoked to make some changes to alter it? To rule out this concern, we can gradually increase the time of iPad reading and compare with the condition under the same length of time in paper reading. Finally, I suggest measuring the amount of melatonin before conducting the test to get a sense of what normal amount it should be, so that we can compare to see the difference after exposure to artificial and dim lights. This cool video is a great helper for us to briefly review what we learnt about this topic~

  4. Rana Mohamed

    I always knew that using your phones before bed was bad for you, but I never knew the exact reason why. I was still a bit confused with the reason so I searched for a more detailed explanation. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Photoreceptors in the retina sense light and dark, signaling our brain about the status of the outside world and aligning our circadian rhythms (centered in a small region of the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus) to the external day-night cycle. This signaling of light and dark helps us to be alert in the morning and be able to fall asleep at the appropriate time at night. The power of light as an alerting agent is easily conceptualized when we think of the sun, but may be more difficult to appreciate when considering the light emitted from a tablet or smartphone.”

  5. Liam Arun Datwani

    This is very similar to a news segment on the exact same issue and the article we for one of the pop quizzes but this is still very well done. You have all the science and biological components along with opinionated work. I love how you also explain the different scientific elements like Melanin and REM. The one issue I had is that you did not how lack of sleep actually effects the brain and such. It would have been an interesting way to also show the difference between the need for sleep between kids and adults. It is a basic thing we all learn in health class but it would have been really good for the post.

  6. Jack Landau

    Continuing on the subject of the post above, I read an article which clearly explains the relationship between technological stimulation and factors such as obesity, trouble in school, or trouble regulating emotions. Instead of claiming these troubles are “direct factors” its important to understand that such logic implies a direct relationship. Is reading an article on your ipad before bed directly related to gaining obscene weight? Absolutely not. These factors may be correlated to negative qualities, however, they are unlimitted third variables that must be assumed in order to prove direct causation. Do children who have trouble regulating emotions before they access technology have a preexisting condition? Do children who develop obesity have preexisting, poor eating habbits? I would imagine that the use of technology before bed does not automatically encourage poor daily nutrion. I would also imagine that children who are mentally unstable would be able to improve their mental health, while struggling to fall asleep. I believe it is safe to assume that sleep is vital, and technology alters one sleep. Once sleep has been affected, there will be a variety of side effects; one will prove cognitively inferior, less hungry, etc. But will ones’ habbits completely worp or change? I believe not, and that is why its unfair to say these side effects are directly related to bedtime activities. This article proves that sleep is essential in order to be functional. If one alters their sleep, such action will probably negatively influence the performance of other tasks (mental health, physical excercise, eating habbits, routines).

  7. Jack Landau

    Continuing on the subject of the post above, I read an article which clearly explains the relationship between technological stimulation and factors such as

  8. Holly Rubin

    As someone who can’t even close their eyes without checking instagram and twitter “just a few last times”, i found this blog to be very interesting. With this being said, I don’t quite understand the relationship between using your phone before bed and variables such as obesity and lower grades. I do get that it may cause us to get less sleep, but the direct relationship to these few things are unclear to me.

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