Is Technology a Cause of Sleep Deprivation?


By Mimi Prickett

We are living in a 21st Century like no other where people have technology that can aid them in pretty much everything – whether it be what, how, where or when. We are living in a nation that is always “sleepy”, where endless caffeine hits are a necessity for each day. Scientists are now suggesting that technology – supposedly meant to improve our lives – could in fact be to blame for this trend in tiredness.

Many of us, once we have finished our work for the day, find ourselves browsing on laptops, phones, iPads and iPods as a form of relaxation. Studies in America are now leaning towards the idea that these actions may be the cause of our “sleepy” generation. Exposure to artificial light after dark from technology screens is said to be the cause of this problem.

This light reduces the release of the hormone melatonin, which induces sleep, and improves alertness in the later hours of the evening thus making it increasingly difficult to fall asleep. Melatonin is responsible for controlling the circadian cycle that in simple terms determines when we go to sleep and when we wake up. More melatonin is produced in the dark. Therefore with excess usage of technological items before bed, it will decrease the amount of this hormone being produced. At the time one feels more awake and consequently does not notice that sleeplessness is an issue, however, when the next day comes the cycle is disrupted leaving an overriding sense of tiredness.

Ultimately this is only theory with little evidence, bar anecdotal, however, it is something to consider and certainly something that makes sense. Are sleeping pills the way forward? Melatonin tablets are available from doctors and pharmaceutical suppliers to aid sleep. However, I am not suggesting this is a cure to the problem, for it merely buries the symptoms without solving them.

Everybody needs their hours of shut-eye and sleep deprivation can greatly affect one’s performance during the daytime. Therefore, we must pose the question – do items of technology help us or do they hinder?

Photography by valentinapowers on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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One Response to Is Technology a Cause of Sleep Deprivation?

  1. Dina says:

    Sounds legit. I do find it really hard to sleep after playing with my phone a bit before I try to go to bed. Really interesting article!

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