Habits, Technology, and a Good Night’’s Sleep

By Samantha Danko

Your alarm goes off at 7am and you would love to stay in bed. Is it because you went to sleep late the night before? Or because it took you a long time to fall asleep and you then tossed and turned all night? Whatever the case, rest assured (pun intended) – you can get better sleep.

On average, about 30% of American adults get at most 6 hours of sleep per night, in contrast to the recommended 7-8 hours. While sleep habits can be challenging to address, many modifications are within reach. Improving sleep patterns is critical to improving your overall health and preventing the onset of chronic disease, as less than six hours a night – whether from general lack of sleep or a sleep disorder – has been associated with higher risks of heart attack, depression, diabetes, and hypertension, among others. A lack of sleep can also result in poor work performance.

The good news is that improvements in sleep can be achieved at all ages. Parents can use sleep coaching to get their children to sleep through the night, and seniors can limit their daytime napping to 20 minutes and try to exercise moderately, for example.

There are also everyday habits that may affect your sleep without you realizing it. Do you tend to use your smart phone or watch TV before going to bed? The blue light from phone screens can alter levels of melatonin and prevent you from falling asleep, so a bedtime ritual that doesn’t involve the use of smartphones can lead to a better night’s rest. You should also think twice about what you consume before bed as studies show that drinking a lot of any fluid at night can be a bad idea, given that getting up to use the bathroom during the night disrupts sleep patterns.

It is worth the time and effort to figure out your sleep cycle and make any necessary changes to allow for a more productive and healthier life. There are wearable devices to help you monitor your sleep (e.g. FitBit, Lark, Jawbone), as well as sound machines, special lights, and high-tech alarm clocks to assist your quest for better sleep.

But what happens when people can’t afford those technologies? Or when socio economic circumstance makes sleep a low priority, with having a roof over your head and putting food on the table coming first – does sleep become a luxury good?


Do you get enough sleep? Do you use any kind of technology to help you sleep or monitor how you sleep? Why or why not?

Image credit: Health Psychology 2014

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