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News / Technology & Sleep / Sleep & Social Media - How Does Social Media Affect Sleep

Sleep & Social Media - How Does Social Media Affect Sleep

It’s 2:30 a.m., you reflect on the time spent on your phone and you wonder, “How the heck did that even happen?”
Author avatar: Andrew Jolie Andrew Jolie March 25, 2024 5 min read

Social media has become a significant part of our lives. We spend an eternity scrolling through various feeds, watching videos, and interacting with friends and influencers. Three or four hours could go by, and it’s 2:30 a.m., and you wonder, “How the heck did that even happen?”

But how does social media affect sleep? This article explores the relationship between social media use and sleep, discussing why so many people struggle with sleep due to online habits and what can be done to minimize these effects.

What Percent of People Lose Sleep Because of Social Media?

Studies show that many people experience sleep disturbances due to social media use. Research indicates that around 70% of adults check their phones within 30 minutes before bed, most likely when they are ‘in’ bed. This habit can lead to difficulties falling asleep and reduced sleep quality. Among teenagers, the numbers are even higher, with 90% reporting using their devices before bedtime. The blue light emitted from screens interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.

Social Media and Sleep Deprivation

Social media can contribute to sleep deprivation in many ways. The content we consume can be stimulating or stressful, making it hard to wind down. News stories, (more often than not negative) heated discussions, and even just the act of scrolling can keep our minds active when we should be relaxing. We think it relaxes us and lets us fall asleep better, but that could not be further from the truth.

Also, checking notifications or updates throughout the night can disrupt sleep cycles. Waking up to check a message or reacting to a notification alert can pull us out of deep sleep, leading to a less restful night. What can be that important? It’s best to turn off notifications or turn your phone off.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) can compel users to stay up later than intended. This fear can keep people engaged with their phones longer, cutting into the time they should spend sleeping. Social media, with all of its algorithms, can be highly addictive. Ever wind up on TikTok and find yourself with hours you’ve lost scrolling through…what, exactly?

What Can Be Done to Reduce the Impact of Social Media on Your Sleep?

Limit Screen Time Before Bed

One of the most effective ways to improve sleep is to limit screen time before bed. Experts recommend putting away electronic devices at least an hour before going to sleep. This allows the brain to produce melatonin naturally, preparing the body for a good night's rest. Is this easy? No. Because many of us already have a social media bedtime routine. It will take a bit of work, but if you’re consistent, this healthy new habit of preparing for sleep will take shape in no time.

Use Night Mode or Blue Light Filters

Many devices now come with a "night mode" or blue light filter. You’re welcome. These features reduce the amount of blue light emitted by screens, which can help mitigate its impact on sleep. Using these settings in the evening can be helpful if you cannot stay off your phone, laptop, or tablet before bed.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Creating a consistent bedtime routine can signal your body that it’s time to sleep. In order to get ready for sleep, you can read a good book, take a calming, warm bath, or practice relaxation exercises. Establishing a routine can train your body to recognize when to wind down and prepare for sleep. And you’ll find that you don’t need to be on your phone.

Set Boundaries and Limits

Setting boundaries with social media can also help. For instance, you can designate specific times during the day to check social media and stick to them. Your iPhone even has a setting called “Screen Time” to limit individual app time. Try to avoid bringing your devices into the bedroom to create a sleep-friendly environment free from distractions and interruptions. If you don’t have your phone near you, you won’t be disrupted and are probably too tired to get up and go get it.

Educate Yourself on the Effects of Social Media on Sleep

Understanding how social media affects sleep can motivate you to make healthier choices. Educate yourself about the impact of blue light and the importance of sleep hygiene. There is so much new information online to check out. Awareness of the consequences can help you make more informed decisions about your social media use.

Get Professional Help if Necessary

If you find it hard to manage your social media use, and it’s significantly affecting your sleep, it may be helpful to get professional advice. Sleep specialists and therapists can offer strategies and support to help you develop healthier habits.

Conclusion – Social Media and Mental Health

The relationship between social media and sleep is complex and multifaceted. We could literally go down a rabbit hole with the effects that social media has on mental health in general. Still, we’re sticking to the issue of sleep in this article. While social media can keep us connected and informed, it can also disrupt our sleep patterns and contribute to sleep deprivation. Poor sleep can, in turn, affect mental health, leading to issues such as anxiety and depression.

By understanding how social media affects sleep and taking steps to reduce its impact, we can improve our sleep quality and overall well-being. Limiting screen time, using blue light filters, establishing bedtime routines, setting boundaries, and seeking professional help are all effective strategies to promote better sleep and healthier social media habits.

Prioritizing sleep and being mindful of social media use can lead to a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

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