The Effects of Portable Devices on Sleeping Patterns

Does a frequent use of portable devices in our day to day lives have an effect on our sleeping patterns? Lets find out.

Over the last decade or so, the popularity of portable devices has skyrocketed thanks to devices such as MP3 players, mobile phones, laptops, and even more so in recent years from the release of tablet computers. These devices have changed the way we all live. Everything about our lives these days is portable. No device is more important than the mobile phone, for example, in keeping you connected on the go, and thanks to features such as 3G and 4G, mobile owners can access just about anything online, making us even more in-touch with the rest of the world. Despite having many positive impacts, they’re negative impacts too, such as the effect portable devices have on our sleeping patterns.

Having done some research on how portable devices such as phones, tablets, laptops etc can have a negative effect on sleeping patterns, it’s clear to see just how likely it is that they can impact on sleep deprivation and insomnia. With the exception of e-readers, most portable devices have self-luminous displays and prolonged exposure to this decreases our melatonin levels as a particular device you may be using gives off optical radiation.

What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a type of hormone produced by a small gland in the brain called a ‘pineal gland’. Melatonin is a crucial part in your sleeping and waking cycles (your body clock). The higher your melatonin levels are, the sleepier you get thus helping sleep. Melatonin is produced by your retina taking in light throughout the day, and then releasing it as it gets dark, which explains why you get tired towards the evenings/night.

So because a frequent use of mobile devices, plus with a possible combination of things such as watching TV or playing video games, your retina continues to take in light beyond day time, preventing your brain from producing melatonin making you less sleepy, and instead causing symptoms such as nausea.

Other factors

It would appear as though a decrease in melatonin levels is the biggest factor in affecting someones sleeping pattern, however, they’re several other negative effects portable devices can have on a person that may have an affect on sleeping patterns.
For one, they are very addictive, particular to the younger generation. You often see that teenagers are always on their mobile phones, talking or texting, and this can have a bad effect on them both short term and long term. Studies have shown that using your mobile phone as part of a lifestyle as a teenager can dramatically reduce academic grades during school and college periods, thus potentially causing a student/teenager a lot of stress which makes sleeping much more difficult.

Texting is another factor that can impact on sleep. A lot of people, teenagers particularly, use texting as a main form of communication and this can often go till late at night where they will text whilst in bed. http://www.neontommy.com go into more detail on this, but one of their articles shows that a massive 68% of people keep their mobiles with them when sleeping, so they will often be woken up by notifications, texts and phone calls which has serious implications on their sleeping patterns as there will be no steady sleep throughout a whole night, making it harder to concentrate the following day and beyond that.

Taking a laptop to bed can also have major implications on sleep, especially if you’re doing work related things on it. When laptops are brought with people to bed, they are conditioning their bodies to think of bed is a place where they work rather than sleep, thus making it much more difficult to relax when trying to sleep, not to mention the effect a laptop would have on melatonin levels too. Plus, a laptop in bed can keep you awake longer than your body wants to be.

My Views

So having done research on the matter, it would appear as though these are the major factors that can impact on sleep. Other things such as people listening to music from their phones/MP3 players can be argued to having a negative impact as well, but it is also said to improve sleep depending what what type of music is being listened to. I am a big fan of using my phone for all types of things, such as texting, browsing the internet and apps, as well as watching a variety of videos on YouTube, or even the occasional movie, and whilst is keeps me entertained before I go to sleep, the effect it has on me whilst try to get to sleep is very noticeable. It will often take me upwards of an hour to actually get to sleep, therefore making me tired throughout the day. So having read more about the effects it can have on your body, I’m determined to cut down the hour I use my phone before bed to improve my sleeping patterns, despite all the advantages portable devices offer!

Thanks for reading, hope you find the information useful & interesting.

-Follow us on Twitter @Insomniac_Info for further information on how technology affects sleep.

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