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Communications Technology and Sleep Have Come Together for Worse

By HERWriter
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Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Have you ever gotten a late-night phone call that startled you into alert mode? What about getting onto the computer after you tossed and turned relentlessly into the night? Technology seems to be such a part of our everyday life that it’s even creeping into our sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep in America poll released March 7, 2011 focuses on communications technology use and sleep, and found that there is a “pervasive use of communications technology in the hour before bed.” Also, many Americans aren’t getting a proper amount of sleep and are coping in sometimes unhealthy ways through caffeine and naps.

As can be expected, sleep now seems to be a luxury.

“Forty three percent of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely or never get a good night's sleep on weeknights. More than half (60 percent) say that they experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night,” according to the poll.

Dr. William Kohler, the medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute, said that it’s common to have sleep issues now.

“It’s sort of a joke in a sense in the sleep community that our sleep debt is higher than our national debt,” Kohler said. “As Americans, we’re a 24/7 society and we are typically sleep-deprived. We’re not getting the sleep that we need. In order to function maximally, you need to have both sufficient quantity and quality of sleep, and we’re not getting either.”

Some common causes of these sleep problems are doing “too much too late,” he said. This means not setting aside proper time to sleep. Technology also is a major distraction at bedtime.

“The brightness of some of the monitors is such that it interferes with our sleep also,” Kohler said. “In order to get adequate rest, we have to have basically a wind-down period, and our brain needs to produce melatonin to help us with sleep, and bright light interferes with the melatonin production. We’re really not only staying up too late, but we’re doing things that inhibit getting into sleep.”

Technology is not the answer to insomnia or sleep problems either.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.