Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep Solutions in the Tech Age

Posted by Abigail Barker on Nov 19, 2019 1:42:52 PM


Technology is currently evolving at a rapid pace. Tech-savvy consumers are requiring the latest access to information and instant methods of communication through portable devices to keep up with the needs of a growing mobile society. In addition to the functions of work, play, and socialization, it’s no wonder that educators are also using technology as a mobile learning tool across the globe.

While online learning has resulted in positive changes such as more convenient schedules and on-the-go learning for busy individuals, having an increased reliance on gadgets can also lead to a decrease in sleep quality and quantity.

In this article, we explore the pros and cons of mobile technology in the field of education and provide useful tips to help students manage their sleep schedules.

Virtual Learning 

Virtual learning platforms have been relatively successful in terms of academic progress—a systematic review published by the International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning analyzed 21 mobile learning research studies and found that some benefits include “an increase in achievement, productivity, engagement, and motivation”. Because of this, many schools now offer apps and learning platforms to help students pursue their education even outside of the classroom. 

Maryville University, an Apple Distinguished School for 2018-2021, introduced a Cyber Fusion Center to help enhance their students' learning experience, allowing for greater flexibility. Similarly, Southampton University hired a development firm to create a mobile app that existing students could use to access information regarding campus events and classes.

Unfortunately, these innovations often encourage students to stay constantly connected to the web, possibly jeopardizing their ability to sleep.

Mobile Device Learning

A study published by Learning House and Aslanian Market Research has found that nearly 67% of students now rely on their mobile devices to complete their coursework, making it even more difficult to disconnect from their mobile phones. Moreover, several studies have found a correlation between mobile phone usage at night and poor sleep quality.

Recent research featured in The Journal of Neurobehavioral Sciences found that sleep quality of the adolescent students decreased as the duration of mobile phone usage increased, and more worryingly, 79.5 percent of the students with poor sleep quality delayed their bedtime in favor of continued usage of their phone. This trend continues with college students, with a study published by the Centre for Promoting Ideas linking nighttime use of mobile phones with the lack of quality sleep.

Students seem to have adopted a hyper-vigilant attitude towards their mobile phones. “Just as a mother develops an “ear” for her baby, perhaps college students have developed an “ear” for their cell phone.” However, this constant stimulation interrupts regular sleep patterns. Because of this, it’s no wonder that many college students report feeling groggy and exhausted in the morning.

Given the busy lifestyle that college entails, we need to place an emphasis on the ‘Importance of Sleep for College Students’, including going to bed as soon as possible and limiting naptime. Here are some added tips for helping students get some quality sleep despite the distractions of mobile technology:

1. Switch off your gadgets before bedtime

In ‘Dorm Sleeping: Advice for the College Student’, we suggest switching off all your gadgets, including cellphones, laptops, tablets, e-readers, and gaming devices at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime. The blue light emitted by these electronics makes it harder for you to doze off, so we suggest spending this time to unwind with a light read or some breathing exercises.

2. Invest in an alarm clock

Do you set five alarms on your phone to get yourself out of bed? Or do you incessantly check the time on your phone when you can’t sleep to see how many hours you’ve got left until morning? Ending up mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed is probably a side effect of this. To prevent this from happening, we suggest buying an alarm clock so that you can finally put your phone away and avoid clock-watching.

3. Wake up early to complete your homework

Are you a night owl? A study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that many students are more productive during the daytime. It’s definitely a challenge, but gradually changing your sleep schedule so that you sleep earlier and wake up earlier means that you can get a lot more work done during the Student looking at camera while studying with classmates in libraryday. This leaves your nights open for some well-earned rest and relaxation.

4. Have a separate area for studying

It may be less comfortable, but Everyday Health recommends that you shouldn’t study on your bed. You’re more likely to be less productive surrounded by comfy pillows and chances are you might end up napping. This throws off your circadian rhythm and makes it more difficult to get some sleep when you really need it. Your brain will also find it harder to relax in bed because you’re stuck in ‘study mode’.

5. Create a sleep-inducing environment

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a sleep-friendly environment is dark, cool, quiet, comfortable and interruption-free. Turn off all your notifications at night to avoid pesky interruptions and late-night texts. You should also avoid sleeping beside your phone so you’re not tempted to keep checking it.

Studies show remittance of the blue light “prevents our brains from releasing melatonin, a hormone that tells our bodies it's nighttime.” Giving up the phone for an hour before bedtime will help distract your brain from the light.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), extended use of a smartphone can cause eye discomfort such as blurred vision, headaches, eyestrain, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. These symptoms are often classified as digital eye strain. And most of the digital eye strain occurs in bed.

Unplugging includes charging. I am not suggesting you keep your phone at 5 percent life but don’t charge the phone next to your bed; otherwise you will be tempted to get on your phone in bed. In fact, “71 percent of people sleep either holding their smartphone, having it in bed with them, or having it on their nightstand.”

With some simple adjustments, your teen or you can sleep peacefully without the embarrassment of waking up with no recollection of the conversation. Alaska Sleep Clinic is ready to help get the sleep you need to be happy and healthy. Contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic today.

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Topics: technology, students, cell phones

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