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?
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’