How Sleep Technology Can Affect You At Night

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

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Last Updated On January 16th, 2024
How Sleep Technology Can Affect You At Night

Key Takeaways

  • Technology Can Disrupt Sleep: Many technological devices, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions, emit bright light that can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Overexposure to these devices in the evening can make it more challenging to fall and stay asleep. Excessive use of technology before bedtime can also lead to overstimulation, reducing sleep time and potentially causing insomnia.
  • Technology Can Aid Sleep: On the other hand, some sleep gadgets can enhance sleep quality. For example, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines have revolutionized the treatment of sleep apnea, making it easier for people with sleep disorders to get a good night’s sleep. Additionally, light therapy technology and sleep-tracking devices can help regulate circadian rhythms and improve sleep patterns.
  • Managing Technology for Better Sleep: To promote better sleep hygiene, it’s essential to create a tech-free sleeping environment. This includes removing non-essential electronic devices from the bedroom, reducing exposure to blue light-emitting screens before bedtime, and adopting a relaxing bedtime routine. Technology can both disrupt and aid sleep, so use it carefully and mindfully.

Technology in modern society aids education, communication, and entertainment. Technological gadgets have become essential to daily life. Some technologies, however, might disrupt or significantly disturb sleeping patterns. These include tablets, computers, cellphones, and televisions with light-emitting displays. Overexposure to bright lights in the evening might make falling and staying asleep more challenging.

Many different devices can harm your sleep cycles at night, such as televisions and smart phones, and other devices that can wake you up or even cause insomnia. Technology usage may create overstimulation before bed, reducing sleep time if not controlled effectively.

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However, sleep gadgets can also be great for helping you sleep better. Some of the best sleep gadgets can enhance sleep. From devices that aid in sleep disorders such as a CPAP machine and aromatherapy devices that provide pleasurable scents. Even sleeping with a simple fan on or an air purifier can help you sleep better by making your room more pleasant and relaxing.

Here, we explore some of the most common ways technology may disrupt your sleep, some valuable recommendations for limiting the usage of this technology, and even some technology that can be used for better sleep.

Current Sleep Medicine Technology

Technology has already made a significant difference in the treatment of sleep problems. In the 1980s, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) was created to enhance sleep for people with sleep apnea. It transformed the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea, which previously needed drastic surgical methods to address. Today, CPAP machines are one of the best sleep gadgets in sleep medicine for people with sleep disorders.

CPAP treatment is getting quieter and more user-friendly. AutoCPAP now self-adjusts based on an algorithm that responds in real-time to breathing irregularities, so you do not wake up. It is linked to providers using a cloud-based system that enables data collection and therapeutic modifications at specific times.

The hypoglossal nerve stimulator has been a successful surgical therapy for severe sleep apnea during the last decade. During sleep, this tongue pacemaker stimulates the muscles of the airway. Those who are unable to tolerate CPAP may have their health benefit from it.

Light therapy technology may help with circadian rhythm issues and sleeplessness. Phototherapy, whether provided by a lamp or with modern light glasses worn on the face, is another light therapy that can improve trouble sleeping.

“Sleep is one of the most observable circadian behaviors,” says Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “Circadian rhythms affect all aspects of our physiology and behavior. They are governed by a master clock in the brain, called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.”

“Light serves as the strongest time signal for this clock in the brain. The light information is conveyed to the circadian clock by receptors in the eye. These receptors are the rods, cones and retinal ganglion cells, all of which play role in this signaling.”

Other Sleep Technology Advances

Newer technologies may begin to change the way we sleep. Scientists and researchers are changing how we sleep with their distinct ideas and techniques.

Apps for Sleeping

There are far too many sleep-related applications for smartphones to count. Many sleep apps use movement trackers and microphones in cell phones to measure a person’s sleep and wakefulness. This information might be used to set a morning alarm clock that determines when to best wake you up in a set time window.

Other apps may teach breathing exercises or relax sleepers in other ways before bed.

Fitness Trackers and Wearables

Fitbit, Nike, Apple, and other well-known brands provide wristbands and smartwatches. Marketed initially as improved step counters, they now include movement data, heart rate and heart rate variability, and even blood oxygen monitoring to predict sleep phases.

Changes to promote sleep may be recommended as a fitness tracker monitors your daily progress.

Monitoring at the Bedside

External monitoring equipment should be kept on the nightstand. These devices can survey the sleep environment, gathering sleep data on body temperature and when you wake at night. If you have a CPAP or BiPAP machine, you will also want to keep it on the bedside table.

Smart Mattresses and Bedding

Some technological mattresses and bedding pads let you control the heat of your sleeping surface, perfect for winter months and hot summer nights. Some smart mattresses also track a sleepers’ movements to determine how well they slept and give feedback on ways to improve their sleep schedule and sleep hygiene.

Adjustable Beds

An adjustable bed is often considered an improvement over a standard bed frame due to its range of customization. An adjustable base can help those with sleep apnea, acid reflux, or breathing difficulties sleep more comfortably by elevating the upper body.

If you need to be able to reach out to a nightstand to access a lamp, a phone, a CPAP machine, or another device for sleep, we recommend a wall hugger adjustable bed. While many models move forward and away from the wall as the head of the bed is raised, a wall-hugging bed keeps the nightstand within easy reach.

Negative Effects of Technology on Sleep

According to research, screen usage before bed Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source might lengthen the time it takes to fall asleep, diminish sleep quality, which can then  impact cognitive functions in the following day.. Daily exposure to light in the evening may raise the risk of some sleep problems in the long run.

Technology may have an impact on your sleep on several other levels. These are some examples.

Excessive Brightness in Sleeping Areas

Household LEDs emit bright lighting. Though we do not gaze directly into them like phones and other gadgets, it is vital to decrease other bedroom lights or switch to warm lighting before bedtime to avoid exposure to brighter spectrum light.

Read more about bedroom lighting ideas.

Overly Stimulating Content

Specific forms of content may have a more significant influence on sleep. For example, exciting or violent video games or similar television programs have been shown in studies to raise heart rate, make it difficult to fall asleep, and worsen sleep quality.

Reduced Sleep Time

The brightness and compelling content of technology use may cut into sleep time. Most sleep hygiene suggestions advise avoiding utilizing the bed for anything other than sleeping.

The degree of technology’s influence on sleep may vary according to the device and method of use. According to research, passive use of technology, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source such as watching a show on TV has a lower impact on sleep than active usage, such as playing an interactive game, texting, or video conferencing.

One study contrasted the sleep habits of those who read a book before bed. One group of participants read printed books, while the other utilized light-emitting e-readers. According to the findings, participants who used light-emitting e-readers took longer to fall asleep, had worse quality sleep, and reported feeling less awake the following day.

Abnormal Sleep Behavior

An unusual way technology can affect your sleep is that using it may become an automatic behavior when sleepwalking and acting out parts of your daily routine. For example, texting in your sleep has become a noted phenomenon.

Technology Effects on Sleep in Children

Sleep is an essential element of wellness for your little one. According to research, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source children who spent more time watching television, using a computer, playing video games, or using their cell phones before bedtime had poorer sleep quality and quantity and were also more likely to be overweight. Such kids are also more Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source likely to be weary in the morning and miss breakfast, which has been associated with weight increase.

As a side note, obesity and weight gain increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea. This sleep apnea interrupts sleep and can cause snoring and morning headaches.

Managing a child’s digital exposure may be challenging for today’s parents. According to a recent poll, 53 percent of youngsters own a cell phone by the time they are 11. Many of these youngsters may bring their phones to bed, sending or receiving text messages throughout the night

There can also be other health effects on the brain of children who relax at night with electronic devices as they drift into sleep. Try to schedule a bedtime program with your children involving reading or other activities before bed rather than television.

Experts advise children and teenagers to keep screens out of their bedrooms and to avoid using electronic devices at least 30 to 60 minutes before bed. See our guide for parents on limiting children’s screen time.

Consider the Technology in Your Room

Television was the primary piece of technology in American homes two decades ago. Most families still have a television and have added additional gadgets such as cellphones and PCs. According to a 2021 Pew Research survey, the average U.S. family has several electronic devices.

In addition to mobile phones, Americans own a variety of other information gadgets. Approximately three-quarters of all individuals in the United States currently own a desktop or laptop computer, with nearly half owning a tablet computer.

As a consequence, the first step is to inventory the technology in your house and bedroom, which includes the following devices:

  • Televisions
  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Computers, both desktop, and laptop
  • Consoles for playing video games
  • E-readers
  • Smartwatches
  • Smart home hubs such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo.

How you engage with each of these gadgets varies, and they have various charging schedules. Consequently, some may be easier to remove from your bedroom than others, but keeping track of your home’s gadgets is the first step in making your bedroom technology-free.

How Do You Make a Tech-Free Bedroom?

Given the pervasiveness of technology in modern culture, creating device-free places may appear challenging. However, a few easy actions might make this process easier and help you adjust to a new sleeping environment in your bedroom.

When it comes to a tech-free bedroom, it’s often best to get rid of all non-essentials. That usually means just lights, an alarm clock, a phone for emergencies, and any medical devices necessary for sleep and overall health. Exiling TV, computers, and tablets from your bedroom can help you fall asleep without distractions tempting you from restful thoughts.

Remember that your precise sleep needs will likely influence how much technology you need in the bedroom. People with allergies and asthma may benefit from an air purifier in the bedroom, while hot sleepers may need a fan to cool down the room. Going completely tech-free is impossible for many, so try to minimize what technology you can.

Nighttime Technology Use Tips

We recommend avoiding laptops, smartphones, and other blue light-emitting gadgets in the hours coming up to sleep time. However, this may be a daunting task for others, such as those who work or study at night or live in a small space, such as students in a dorm. If you must use one of these devices in the evening, the measures listed below can help you sleep longer and better.

Reduce Daytime and Nighttime Electronics Use

Using electronic devices for extended amounts of time throughout the day can also harm sleep, particularly among teens. Shorter sleep duration, later sleep start, and insomnia are all common side effects of electronic overuse.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

A regular time to go to bed that allows for appropriate rest is vital for healthy sleep. The hour before bed should be filled with relaxing activities that do not include electronics, serving as an evening routine that helps you prepare for sleep.

The best way to enhance sleep at night is to relax before bed. Avoid reading, watching TV, or working in the bedroom close to bedtime. Sitting up in bed and reading a few chapters in a book may be fine, or you could read in the kitchen with a cup of caffeine-free tea for sleep.

Try some guided breathing exercises for sleep or do some light journaling during your bedtime routine, letting your brain unwind from daily life before you drift off to sleep. Make this a steady routine for the best results for your health.

Create a Screen-Free Zone in your Bedroom

While many individuals choose to have a television in their bedroom, viewing TV before bed is typically discouraged since it might negatively impact sleep. We urge you to remove all non-essential electronic gadgets from your bedroom.

Maintain Low Bedroom Lighting

According to research, regular indoor lighting levels of 100 lux or above might inhibit Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source melatonin synthesis and disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. Dimmer indoor illumination has a significantly less impact on melatonin synthesis.

Use Nighttime Mode

Many mobile phones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices include a “nighttime mode” that is easier on the eyes before bed. According to one study, the most effective nighttime modes Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source limit lighting emissions while lowering the display’s brightness level. If your smartphone does not automatically reduce the brightness in nighttime mode, you should decrease the display manually.

Purchase Blue Blocker Glasses

Orange-tinted spectacles may be purchased to protect your eyes against blue light emissions. This may not be ideal, especially if you dislike wearing glasses, but tests have shown Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source that they are pretty effective. Blue light blocking glasses are reasonably priced, and you should be able to locate a good pair for under $100.

Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment

To establish a conducive sleeping environment, we suggest focusing on creating a cool, dark, quiet, and clutter-free space.

Keep It Cool

Most people find temperatures in the mid 60s to low 70s Fahrenheit is the most comfortable temperature for sleep, so your bedroom at night should fall into this range. Cool temperatures are a cue for the body that it’s time to sleep.

Sleep in the Dark

Use room-darkening curtains or thick, lined curtains. Try also securing drapes with pins. It’s best to stop any outside light from entering the room when it’s bedtime, but also good to be able to let sunlight in during the morning to help you wake up. Morning sunlight has various benefits for your skin, alertness, mood, and overall health.

Sources of brightness should be blocked or removed. You may even wish to turn away an alarm clock from your bed, so its LED face won’t distract you and cause anxiety-inducing clock-watching. An eye mask for sleep can also help, if you cannot easily remove or minimize light sources.

Block Noise

Reduce noise by using earplugs and turning off cell phone calls and non-essential notifications. Some sleepers find the consistent sound of sleeping with a fan on is soothing, while others enjoy complete silence.

Keep It Clutter Free

A cluttered bedroom can inspire anxious thoughts. So for calming sleep, it’s best to have a clutter-free sleep environment.

It’s also important to maintain a clear path to your restroom, to minimize stumbling your way in the dark. An adjustable bed can help, as many models have under-bed lighting or a built-in remote flashlight for easier nighttime navigation. Read more about the benefits of adjustable beds to determine if one is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can we use technology to help us sleep?

While many forms of technology can distract you from sleep, that doesn’t mean you should build a tech-free home. Temperature-controlling technology can help you relax and fall asleep at night with cool, relaxing temperatures. Sleep trackers can monitor how well you’re sleeping and areas you can improve.

People with sleep apnea can use a CPAP machine for undisturbed rest, while individuals with asthma or allergies may want to consider the benefits of an air purifier and humidifier for better air quality. Lastly, adjustable beds can help sleepers customize their comfort in a way that traditional panel beds cannot offer.

How far away should your phone be when you sleep?

If possible, keep your phone away from your bed or even your nightstand. Shut it off if you can or put it in ‘do not disturb’ mode if you need it on for emergency calls or to serve as an alarm clock. If you do use your phone as an alarm clock, moving it away from your bed will help you wake up as you get out of bed to shut it off.

Can technology promote a comfortable sleep temperature?

While yes, you can use lightweight bedding and sleep clothes to stay cool in bedroom for summer and heavier fabrics and blankets to stay warm in the winter, you can also use more technologically advanced ways. Aside from the thermostat and air conditioner, you can try sleeping with a fan on during warm summer nights. For colder, wintry evenings, heated blankets and mattress pads can help you stay warm.


As you can see, several factors might prevent you from sleeping when it comes to technology use. However, most of these issues may be resolved by practicing excellent sleep hygiene and prioritizing sleep.

Some people may be unable to remove screens from their bedrooms owing to work or family obligations. However, it is critical to distinguish between device usage and sleep time. For example, if you must have your smartphone in your room, think about turning off lighting and notifications.

While proper sleep hygiene and optimizing a bedroom may not always be enough to improve sleep, for many it’s a big help. Still, people who have sleep abnormalities and disorders should seek a proper diagnosis and treatment. Often that begins with a sleep study after speaking with their doctor or a sleep specialist.

About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

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