Is Bedtime Media Use Bad for Sleep? Here’s the Latest Research

Smartphone Media Bed Sleep

New research published in the Journal of Sleep Research has examined how sleep might be impacted by media use—such as watching movies, television, or YouTube videos; browsing the Internet; or listening to music—before bed.

In the study, 58 adults kept a diary that recorded information related to time spent with media before bed, location of use, and multitasking. Electroencephalography—tests that detect electrical activity of the brain using small metal discs attached to the scalp—captured parameters such as bedtime, total sleep time, and sleep quality.

Media use in the hour before sleep was associated with an earlier bedtime. If the before-bed use did not involve multitasking and was conducted in bed, it was also associated with more total sleep time. A long use of media was associated with later bedtime and less total sleep time. Sleep quality was unaffected by media use before bed.

“If you are going to use media, like watching TV or listening to music, before bed, keep it a short, focused session and you are unlikely to experience any negative outcomes in your sleep that night,” said lead author Morgan Ellithorpe, PhD, of the University of Delaware.

Reference: “The complicated impact of media use before bed on sleep: Results from a combination of objective EEG sleep measurement and media diaries” by Morgan E. Ellithorpe, Ezgi Ulusoy, Allison Eden, Lindsay Hahn, Chia-Lun Yang and Robin M. Tucker, 9 February 2022, Journal of Sleep Research.
DOI: 10.1111/jsr.13551

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