How Technology Can Both Disrupt & Help Your Teen’s Sleep

9 min read

Last Modified 19 March 2021 First Added 18 March 2021

By Lewis Ridley

Technology is often viewed in a negative light when it comes to sleep. With blue light being a problematic factor, phones, tablets, and TVs are often criticised for keeping teenagers up.

However, some technology can be used in a positive way to improve sleep in teens. It shouldn’t always be looked at as a bad thing.

In this article, we’ll break down how technology can disrupt your sleep, before identifying ways to improve your teen’s routine.

Does technology disrupt our sleep?

With 75% of Brits owning a smartphone, channels and apps where we can binge watch TV series, and almost every job using some form of digital system, it can be hard to switch off at bedtime. Our lives are so entwined with technology now that it can seem alien having time away from anything electronic. The same is just as true for teens.

Which technology is most likely to cause havoc with our sleep cycles?

1. Smartphones

The tech item we probably use most every day is our smartphone. It’s difficult not to reach for it when we get any quiet moment. Research by Deloitte has even shown that a third of UK adults and half of 18-24-year olds wake up to check their phone in the middle of the night. This sleep disruption has also cause a disturbance in relationships with participants saying this had caused arguments. Many also blamed their addiction on ‘FOMO’ – fear of missing out.

Man using smartphone in bed

The trouble with this is that it tricks your brain into ‘waking up’ mode. Artificial blue light emitted from mobile phones stops your body from producing melatonin which is the chemical that makes us sleepy. The blue light gives the impression of daylight to your brain which hinders your ability to get to sleep and your sleep quality. Additionally, waking up from complete darkness and immediately looking at the bright screen on your phone can hurt your eyes if you hold it too close.

Related: Sleep Technology And The Future Of Sleep

2. Television/ Tablets

Many of us love curling up and watching our favourite TV shows in bed before we get our heads down. Whether you’re binging on Netflix or catching up on the soaps, watching telly in bed can have a bigger impact on your sleep than you might think.

One of the significant concerns with bedtime TV is the temptation to stay up late and carry on watching to the end of the series or film; we’ve all been there! The content of the programme can have an adverse effect on our slumber too. Sleep.org says, ‘violence, gore, or suspense may leave you feeling anxious and could contribute to tossing and turning.’

However, the biggest issue with watching TV in bed is the same as with smartphones – artificial blue light. Most electronic devices emit the same type of blue light, so anything with a screen like this will have a negative impact on sleep.

TV on in bedroom

3. Computers

Working late into the night or online shopping will keep your brain active when it should be winding down. If you do need to work from home in the evening, set yourself a time limit to ensure that you have enough time to get your body into sleep mode before you get into bed. And yes, the artificial light from your laptop screen will have all the same negative effects as with a TV or smartphone!

How teens can use technology to improve their sleep habits

1. Sleep tracking and measurement

A close-up shot of a clock face

One of the most annoying things about sleep is that it’s difficult to get feedback on.

When you’re asleep, you can’t exactly take notes about how you’re feeling and what stage of sleep you’re in.

However, with the implementation of certain tech, you can effectively track and measure what you’re doing whilst you’re in the land of nod.

This measurement, when applied to your teen’s sleep routine, allows them to receive direct feedback about how they’re sleeping and what they can do to improve.

They can use the data they receive each morning, make notes about how they feel, and look to improve the next time they go to sleep.

What can teens use to track sleep?

There are a variety of pieces of tech you can use to achieve this kind of measurement. Better yet, they don’t always have to cost anything.

Take the phone app Sleep Cycle, for example. It’s an app that tracks your sleep and gives you a score out of 100 every morning.

With the premium version, you can add notes and get large performance reviews that span across weeks, so your teenager can measure and track their sleep over a longer timeframe.

As well as apps, smartwatches and smart rings, such as Oura, can also achieve a similar result. However, if you’re not looking to spend additional money, sticking with the apps is the best way forward.

2. Easy wakeups

A man waking up from bed

One thing most teenagers struggle with is waking up. It can be a slog for them to roll out of bed and, as a parent, it can be frustrating to wait around for them to rise.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have them finally leaping out of bed as soon as their alarm goes off?

With the invention of certain technology, your teen could find it a lot easier to rise from bed and get up at an appropriate time. Specifically, with the invention of things like lightboxes.

How lightboxes can aid wakeups for teens

Lightboxes are exactly what they sound like – a box that emits light. They stay in your bedroom and can be used to optimise your circadian rhythms. By correcting your sleeping and waking times, your teens can get better, deeper sleep and wake up at the perfect time.

If you’re not sure what circadian rhythms are, they’re essentially your body’s 24-hour clock. These rhythms dictate when you feel sleepy in the evening and when you feel awake in the morning, and they’re heavily influenced by light.

By using a lightbox in the early morning, you can help your body wake up. This is especially helpful if you have a very dark room.

We have an entire guide dedicated to explaining what a lightbox is and how it benefits your sleep, which you can find here

By giving a lightbox to your teen, they can optimise their rhythms and wake up feeling refreshed.

3. Deeper sleep

Did you know that temperature is one of the most important factors governing sleep? In fact, it’s been indicated by studies that a hotter environment may have a negative impact on your sleep. Therefore, if you want to improve your teen’s slumber, keeping their room cool could provide decent benefits.

According to Healthline:

“Your body begins to shed warmth right about the time you go to bed and continues to cool down until reaching its low point near daybreak… If the temperature in your sleeping environment is too hot or cold, it may affect the drop in your body’s internal temperature and cause you to have disrupted sleep.”

If you want to ensure your teen has the perfect environment for sleep, investing in temperature regulating technology could be a good step to make.

Using technology to regulate your teen’s temperature during sleep

There are a few options open to you if you’re looking to make sure your teen is sleeping in a cooler environment.

One of these options includes the Moona Pillow.

This pillow stays cool throughout the night, thus helping your teen achieve a deeper, more effective sleep.

Moona is essentially a smart pillow. It adjusts its temperature as your teen sleeps and ensures they’re not overheating when they’re sound asleep.

Where the Moona Pillow can be of great use is the Summer when temperatures are warmer. With the pillow, your teen will maintain a consistent temperature even when their room is hot. Helping them fall asleep quicker and remain undisturbed.

4. Upgrade their comfort

A messy but comfy bed

One large contributing factor to your teen’s sleep is their bed. To achieve a good night’s sleep, you’ll not only want the external environment to be perfect, but their bedding needs to be comfortable as well.

At Dreams, we know a thing or two about good bedding. It’s important to make sure your teen enjoys their mattress, making sure it compliments their sleeping position.

Of course, as well as mattress firmness, there are a few technologies you can deploy to make sure your teen is getting the rest they deserve.

One way is to use what is called a weighted blanket.

Using a weighted blanket to improve your teen’s sleep

Weighted blankets are a therapeutic method to improve sleep in teens. These blankets can weigh up to 30 pounds and there are a few studies that suggest they can provide a number of benefits.

In a 2014 study, it was found that weighted blankets helped to reduce sleeping problems. Similarly, in a 2011 study, it was found weight blankets could reduce night-time disturbances and reduce sleep onset time.

It’s believed weighted blankets achieve this by providing deep pressure stimulation, which can reduce anxiety and improve mood. It also de-stressed individuals, which could be another reason why it improves sleep.

If you’re interested in seeing how a weighted blanket could help improve the sleep of your teen, check out Gravity Blankets. They’ve won awards for the weighted blankets, so you can be sure they’ll provide your teen with endless comfort.

Closing thoughts

As you can see, technology isn’t all bad when it comes to sleep. With the right applications, you can actually improve your teen’s sleep with technology.

Better yet, sleep tech is always advancing, so you never know while arriving in the years to come.

With a few of the suggestions above, you’ll be able to give your teen the best night sleep, helping them fell well-rested and energetic throughout the day.

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