Skip to main content

How Technology Affects Sleep Quality

Sleep Technology - How Technology Affects Sleep Quality

Mobile device use in New Zealand, including smartphones and tablets, has dramatically increased in the last few years. This boost in mobile device usage has direct, negative effects on sleep quality.

In New Zealand:

  • 90% of New Zealanders own a smartphone
  • In 2018, 66% of social media access was via smartphone
  • More than 91% of NZ millennials own a smartphone
  • More than two-thirds of New Zealanders access and use multiple devices
  • 94% of millennials in NZ use their smartphone for web browsing and social networking on a daily basis
  • More than 50% report using their mobile device more than ever before

All of this use of digital devices has a negative impact on sleep, both in terms of quantity and quality.

Side Effects of Smartphone Use

Using a mobile device at night (including e-readers that have a backlight) directly results in sleep deprivation and tiredness, sluggishness, and poor performance during the day. Despite the fact that downtime with your digital book or smartphone may seem relaxing as you wind down after the day, it has the opposite effect at night as you prepare to go to sleep.

Researchers from Harvard University in the USA have discovered that if you use your phone, tablet, or backlit e-reader within two hours of bedtime:

  • Falling asleep will take longer.
  • You’ll fail to achieve proper REM (dreaming) sleep.
  • Your natural body clock will be disrupted.
  • Secretion of the hormone melatonin (which is triggered by darkness and promotes sleep) is compromised.
  • You’ll experience tiredness and lack of motivation the next day.

The University of Copenhagen conducted a study in 2016, which found that more than one-third of participants (millennials) experienced at least one night per week (during weekdays )during which sleep was interrupted as a direct result of smartphone use.

A major explanation for these results lies in blue light emitted by mobile devices, and the resultant Stimulation Effect.

Blue Light

Digital mobile devices, as well as computer screens and televisions, emit blue light. This light is interpreted by the brain as daylight, which limits the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally-produced hormone originating in the pineal gland and it promotes sleep. Without melatonin, and due to the brain being tricked into thinking it is experiencing daylight, sleep becomes difficult and when one does fall asleep, the sleep is compromised.

Stimulation Effect

Not only does the lack of melatonin stimulate the brain; so too does the addictive nature of using a digital mobile device. This is due to a few factors:

  • Many people use their phone as their alarm clock and keep it within arm’s reach of the bed (or even in the bed). The temptation to check social media, emails, and to respond to sound alerts is irresistible.
  • We feel energised by social media interactions.
  • There are few external interruptions from your device late at night when everyone else is asleep – it may seem like a great time to read, play a game, or browse the internet.

Use of mobile technology stimulates the brain – this is literally addictive. It leads to poor sleep quality and daytime exhaustion, with long term effects on health.

Sleep Solutions for Mobile Use

  • Your sleep quality and overall wellbeing can be improved improving your bedtime routine and setting limits on mobile device use.
  • Avoid using digital screen devices for at least an hour before bed.
  • Use Night Shift on iOS or Wind Down Mode/ Night Mode on Android devices overnight and from a couple of hours before bedtime.
  • Use the Blue Light Filter or apps such as Flux.
  • Have a “technology curfew” and set a reminder on your phone for this a couple of hours before bedtime.
  • Mute or turn off your phone overnight.
  • Don’t look at your phone if you wake through the night.
  • Have a healthy bedtime routine, including such factors as sleeping in a dark room, not having a television in your bedroom, taking a warm bath, drinking chamomile tea or a warm milky drink before bed, and avoiding eating or drinking alcohol within a few hours of bedtime.


Another way to improve your sleep quality is to address issues like snoring and sleep apnoea. If you experience either of these issues, which are detrimental to sleep quality, ApneaRx may help you sleep better.

ApneaRx is a revolutionary, patented medical-grade oral sleep device that is worn in the mouth to help alleviate snoring and may assist with sleep apnoea. It repositions the lower jaw to open the airways for easier breathing during sleep.

Visit our website to purchase ApneaRx. Contact us to learn more.