A good night’s rest

Tech­nol­ogy plays such a huge part in our lives but is it at the cost of some much-needed sleep?

EDP Norfolk - - COUNTRYSIDE - WORDS: Fay Wat­son

There’s a per­cep­tion when it comes to sleep that bring­ing tech­nol­ogy into the bed­room is one of the worst things you can do. Decades of re­search has shown that blue light emit­ted from mo­bile phones and watch­ing TV as well as the con­stant alerts and no­ti­fi­ca­tions we re­ceive are gen­er­ally seen to be less than con­ducive with a rested mind.

Yet, tech­nol­ogy is also at the fore­front of com­bat­ing in­som­nia. This year has seen the sec­tor ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a big boom with a num­ber of high pro­file com­pa­nies un­veil­ing their lat­est gad­gets at the an­nual Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show. With ev­ery­thing from day­light lamps to sleep ro­bots com­ing on the mar­ket, there seems to be some­thing for ev­ery­one. So is tech­nol­ogy do­ing us more harm than good? Or could it be the so­lu­tion to this grow­ing prob­lem?

‘The thing is, long be­fore

we had mo­bile phones and tablets and lap­tops, sleep ad­vice con­tained avoid­ing TV be­fore bed be­cause if you’re watch­ing some­thing that’s alert­ing you and which is wak­ing you up, then you’re go­ing to find it more dif­fi­cult to go back to sleep,’ Dr Neil Stan­ley, the au­thor of How to Sleep Well, ex­plains to me.

‘Since the early 90s, we have known that there is a re­cep­tor in the eye that is specif­i­cally re­spond­ing to blue light and com­put­ers, smart phones, and the such­like give off a lot of blue light,’ he adds. ‘And all the time you’re look­ing at your screen that’s ba­si­cally telling your brain that it’s day­time and only once you switch the screen off does the brain ac­tu­ally re­spond to the fact that it’s night and start that process of go­ing to sleep.’

In­creas­ing own­er­ship of screens and a binge watch­ing cul­ture from stream­ing ser­vices also mean that the prob­lem could just keep get­ting worse, ac­cord­ing to Dr Stan­ley. ‘We’re re­ally like chil­dren with a new toy, we haven’t yet de­vel­oped

a good re­la­tion­ship with our tech­nol­ogy and that is the big­gest cause of the sleep de­pri­va­tion that we’re go­ing through.’

On the other hand, the boom­ing sleep tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try is con­stantly in­no­vat­ing ways to help you get a good rest. These come in the form of apps for smart­phones, like Sleep­S­core, which tracks your sleep and rec­om­mends aids that can help you, as well as spe­cial lamps like the Lu­mie Body­clock Luxe 750D (left), which has been de­signed to have a low blue light emis­sion. There are even some more in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions like Som­nox sleep ro­bot (above), which users can cud­dle to help them repli­cate breath­ing pat­terns thought to help with sleep.

It’s a crowded field out there in the world of sleep ad­vice, with lots of con­tra­dic­tory so­lu­tions mak­ing it hard to know what the best so­lu­tion to the ut­terly ex­haust­ing prospect of a bad night’s sleep is. But, ac­cord­ing to Dr Stan­ley, it’s all about keep­ing it sim­ple.

‘Es­sen­tially to get a good night’s sleep, you need a bed­room con­ducive to sleep – one that’s dark, quiet, cool, com­fort­able; you need a re­laxed body and you need a quiet mind and that’s it,’ he says. ‘Any other ad­vice only builds on that.’ Well, it cer­tainly seems a good place to start.

‘We’re re­ally like chil­dren with a new toy, we haven’t yet de­vel­oped a good re­la­tion­ship with our tech­nol­ogy’

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