Scrolling and Sleeping: How Social Media is Affecting Your Night’s Rest

Image of person laying in bed looking at their smartphone

Here’s an important question: How well do you sleep?

Unfortunately, millions of people these days will say, “not great.” There are many factors that lead to a person not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to a groggy morning and a day that is plagued by the consequences of a restless night.

We all know that things like stress impact the quality of a person’s sleep. So does the type of mattress a person sleeps on, as well as things like the temperature, a partner’s or children’s sleep habits. Things like medication or health problems can also affect how much deep sleep a person gets at night. Some of these things we can change, and some we can’t.

But another sleep-affecting factor that has taken over people’s lives is social media. These apps, that so many of us bring into bed, are often the last thing we see at night and the first thing we see in the morning. Scrolling through social media has become a deeply entrenched habit that many of us don’t even realize how much we do it, or the impact it’s having on our lives.

How is scrolling through social media affecting your sleep?

It has been research and well-established that looking at phone screens has an impact on sleep. Mobiles emit mostly blue light, and these wavelengths are fine for during they day. In fact, some research points out that they blue light is good at keeping us productive and focused.

However, at night, this is not how we want our brains to be functioning. We don’t need to be on high alert and ready for complex problem solving. Simply put, when we are exposed to light, our body and brain chemistry reacts in an “awake” mode. 

Normally in the evening, our brains produce and release melatonin, which causes our alertness to wane and prepares us for the feeling of tiredness. Looking at your phone at night signals to your brain that you need to stay awake. And the blue light emitted by mobile phones affects your melatonin levels more than any other wavelength does. Without melatonin, our brains are in a state of ‘cognitive arousal’.

Cognitive Arousal and Your Sleep

When we look at social media, we are constantly scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. It’s an endless stream of stimulus that is bright, colourful, and often emotional. The images and stories that are rolling along in front of our eyes can cause feelings of sadness, jealousy, joy, anger. That’s what it’s meant to do in order to keep you engaged. An emotional reaction – happy or sad –  is more likely to keep you scrolling. 

What Can Be Done?

While there are people who have done away with social media, the vast majority of people are connected to the platforms and can’t really picture their lives without it. No judgment. 

However, it is a good idea to limit your intake before bed and throughout the day. By some estimates, people are spending at least two and a half hours on social media every day, if not much more. And the problem is that social media is designed to keep you hooked, because it releases a chemical reaction in your brain that is hard to change. 

But it’s not impossible! And small steps will add up over time. Here are some things you can do to reduce your social media intake at night so that you can fall asleep faster and have better quality of sleep overall:

  • Delete the apps from your phone
  • Keep your phone out of your bedroom at night. Go old school and purchase an alarm clock (there are really cool ones out there!)
  • Dive into a really good book that you read at bedtime to distract yourself from needing your phone
  • Replace the habit with journaling
  • Set a strict rule that you won’t look at social media at least two hours before bedtime

Investing in your sleep habits is going to improve your life. That’s a bold statement but it’s really true. Prioritizing sleep affects physical, mental, and emotional help and can have a positive cascading effect throughout your day. A good mattress is important, too! If you are looking for a mattress in Surrey, come on into our store. We would love to help you get the quality of sleep you’ve always wanted!