Electronic Devices And Sleep Disorders

Some research has recently appeared linking electronic devices and sleep disturbances. A relationship has been found between both factors. Basically, it has been established that the devices are potentially harmful to normal sleep rhythms and that they can significantly alter the quality of sleep

The issue is worrying if one takes into account that today many people use mobile phones, computers and similar devices frequently and for a long time. Likewise, the number of those who can only sleep with the phone on the night table or take their laptop to bed to continue working is growing.

There is evidence that all of these behaviors can be problematic. There is a link between electronic devices and sleep disturbances. The National Sleep Foundation at the University of California has concluded that devices of this type lead to shorter and poorer sleep.

Sleep is the only effective medicine .”


Artificial light and circadian rhythms

The circadian rhythms are all processes of change taking place in living things in a shorter time to 24 hours. These are cycles that always follow the same order and that follow one another in stages. Among many other aspects, these rhythms regulate sleep cycles. They are equivalent to what is commonly known as the “biological clock”.

Research conducted at Connetticut University, later published in the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions , indicates that artificial light has the potential to alter circadian rhythms. In particular, they can affect the sleep cycle.

The study establishes a direct relationship between electronic devices and sleep disturbances. These devices work precisely with artificial light and sleep is highly conditioned by circadian rhythms. These, specifically, make the body more active in times of light and more passive when darkness reigns.

Circadian cycles are largely determined by specialized cells in the retina. When the screens  of electronic devices are turned on , a distortion is generated. In this way, even at night, the daytime functions are activated, when before sleeping we need them to be deactivated.

Findings about electronic devices and sleep disturbances

At the University of California they have reached conclusions similar to those we pointed out in the previous section. They have even gone further. They note that blue-light displays on computers and phones reduce melatonin production. This hormone affects the quality of sleep. When it is low, it makes it more difficult to fall asleep and decreases the duration of it.

On the other hand, the bad habit of having a mobile phone or computer next to us, even when we go to bed, prevents neuronal activity from being reduced. These devices keep us alert and what we need before going to sleep is the opposite: to relax.

The worst of all is that, while we sleep, it is possible that they send us messages or alerts by mobile. Those who are very conditioned to use it, wake up immediately to see what it is about. And even if it doesn’t ring, there is a subjective tension over the possibility that it does. This does not let us sleep well.

Undesirable effects

The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst David Dorenbaum argues that the binomial formed by electronic devices and sleep disturbances also have other consequences. He assures that with the intensive use of these devices it becomes more difficult to remember dreams. There would be an analogy between the world we see through a screen and dream images.

In fact, a study carried out with 1,000 Australian students, aged between 13 and 16, showed that the devices were associated with a lower quality of sleep, which, in turn, would have adverse effects on mental health. The young people in the sample had greater signs of depression.

Electronic devices are not the problem. The real difficulty is in its misuse. Well managed, technological devices make life easier and other functions easier. However, if mishandled, they make human beings vulnerable and dependent on their availability.