The Modern Day Sleep Cycle and How It’s Affected by Technology

In Columns, Technology

Imagine having to get up on time on your own. Seems impossible, right? This is what roosters were used for earlier, and ever since people started living away from the farms, a need for alarm clocks arose. Technology has always been impacting our sleep patterns and how we sleep. Also, technology has reached every other room of the house, it’s only natural for it to reach the bedroom and change how we sleep.

The negative effects of technology on sleep

Blue light factor- The blue light given out by certain devices like our smartphones and our tablets decreases the production of melatonin in the human body. Melatonin is supposed to control our sleep cycle. If you’ve ever wondered why you’re not being able to sleep on time, this might be the reason and you might have to considerably reduce using your devices around half an hour before you want to sleep. Melatonin also controls weight gain. This might be why you’re unable to lose that extra belly fat despite all the hard work at the gym. Bad sleep can also lead to depression, nobody wants that to happen.

The mind takes time to unwind– Using the phone right before you sleep usually keeps your brain active in some way, and that ends up keeping you up for a while even after you leave the phone. Not just that, any notification can disturb a person’s sleep. A person needs to be completely at ease, mentally speaking, to be able to fall asleep on time.

Technology to aid sleep

All technology isn’t bad. Sleep trackers have really gained popularity with the widespread user base that brands like Fitbit have created. As the name suggests, these bands track your sleep pattern, record how many times you wake up at night, and they can also record how much sleep you get at night. Using the collected data is obviously up to the users though, the bands obviously can’t make a user sleep.

A smart bed has been created by Sleep Number which tracks movements and body temperature and adjusts conditions to improve sleep quality. If you’re sleeping next to someone who snores like a pig, you could use a feature of the bed which would stop the person from snoring.

Light bulbs with microprocessors have also been developed to improve how a person sleeps. They work in a way which is pretty straightforward. They take roughly half an hour to switch off (and to switch on too, depending on whether or not the user has fed the wake up time to the bulb). As is obvious from the previous description, these bulbs, when being switched off, go from full brightness to zero brightness using an in-built dimmer system which is controlled by the microprocessor. This provides a smooth transition from light to dark and vice-versa.

So it is easy to see that technology can be used to worsen sleep and to improve it as well. I would personally suggest that everyone starts using the kind that improves it.

(The article is authored by Nishant Nijhawan, Intern, Nishant is a student of computer engineering at Delhi Technical University who believes in optimal usage of technology.)

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