Sleep disruption in adulthood: the effects of technology use on quality and duration

  • S. O'Neill
  • S. Dockray


Background: Technology use as a disrupter of sleep quality has been emphasised in sleep research in recent years, with many studies focusing on the potential for screen time to delay sleep onset. The use of technology devices prior to bed-time and the corresponding exposure to blue light emitted by these devices can delay sleep onset, likely via melatonin suppression (Harad, 2004; Zeitzer et al, 2000). A less examined reason for sleep disruption following technology use is that there is a higher emotional arousal associated with technology use, for example, via social engagement, that disrupts sleep. The REST (Researching Experiences of Sleep and Technology use) Study examined the effects of technology use on sleep quality and health in adults. The study also investigated the effects of emotional arousal from using devices on sleep quality. Methods: Participants (N=1104) aged 18+ from around the world completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Epsworth Sleepiness Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory, diary measures of emotional arousal and details of their use of technology prior to bed-time. Findings: A series of regression analyses indicates that technology use and depression are associated with poor quality sleep, as measured by Global PSQI. Younger participants reported higher levels of technology use prior o bed-time and experienced greater sleep disruption. Discussion: Technology use may represent an independent risk for sleep disruption via biological and psychological pathways. The results are interpreted within a developmental framework, emphasising the inter-individual differences in psychobiological dimensions of sleep.
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