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  • Writer's pictureSophie Bostock, PhD

Does using a screen before bed interfere with sleep?

Q: Does using a screen before bed really interfere with sleep?

A: It depends.

Q: Does the blue light from your phone interfere with sleep?

A: Not so much.

Sleep science is always evolving

Science is a process. We get evidence that points us in one direction, then other people go off and test it.. and sometimes they come up with contradictory evidence! Over time, our understanding evolves.

On this question, there is still quite a bit to learn, but Serena Bauducco, Michal Kahn, Michael Gradisar and colleagues have just published a new review which does a fabulous job of explaining, why light from screens is not, in fact, the Arch Enemy.

What do we know about whether USING A screen BEFORE BED interfereS with sleep?

The review found:

💡 Neither the light from screens, nor violent or suspenseful content, reliably has much impact on falling sleep.

💡 Getting carried away by what we're doing on the screen before bed (Next episode in 5...4...3..., or an addictive video game), or the ping of alerts being left on during the night, may have a bigger impact on lost sleep

💡 Some people may actually benefit by using a screen before bed, either to distract or comfort them from negative thoughts, or just to pass the time while they get sleepy.

What's next for technology and sleep research?

Interestingly, there were no studies on checking work emails before bed, or finishing off work on your laptop late at night. I would hypothesise that work could be more 'arousing' and stressful for some than a violent video game, but.. that is an idea that needs testing!

Personally, I still recommend that phones are kept out of the bedroom to avoid temptation, and potential distraction, BUT if you are going to sleep with your tech, at least switch off alerts (flight mode?) and set an alarm to remind yourself to switch off.


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