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How Disruptive Technology Disrupts Sleep

New technology is often touted as disruptive—usually by those tasked with marketing the technology. According to Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen, who coined the term: disruptive technology is any technology that unexpectedly displaces other more established technologies.

A lot of these technologies tend to be disruptive in other ways, too. While we marvel over how technology has made our lives easier, we also find ourselves grumbling when the very same technologies get in the way. For example, while mobile phones bring us closer together, they’ve also been blamed for straining relationships. The Internet, a boon to office productivity is also notorious for distracting workers.

But there’s one area where technology also takes its toll, and many of us may not even realize just how harmful over time this can be: sleep. Huffington Post blogger Amanda L. Chan covered our survey on TV binge-watching and also pointed to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll that showed 95% of people use their TV, cell phone, computer or some other electronic device before going to bed. In other research she references, TV was shown to be a major factor in the time people finally slip into dreamland. Teens seem to be particularly affected by slumber-stealing tech, with a slew of studies showing how the sleep deprivation caused by mobile phones and social media can lead to insomnia, depression, anxiety and even hallucinations.

The impact of technology on sleep goes beyond time-chewing gadgets pushing back bedtime. The glow of the various screens in our bedrooms—TVs, computers, cell phones, etc.—has been shown to trick the brain into thinking it’s daytime, thereby disrupting our sleep patterns. The anxiety caused by work and other stress-inducing emails is keeping us up, too.

So how can the wired keep from getting tired?

Try limiting the use of electronics at least an hour before bed. In their place, try taking a hot bath or reading a book or listening to some music. Or pick up a new hobby: knitting, drawing, playing a music instrument… these are just some of the rewarding activities that can help soothe you into slumber.

And don’t forget, SleepRate has developed tools to make it easier and more affordable than ever to train yourself to get a good night’s sleep. Join us on Facebook.com/SleepRate or follow @SleepRate on Twitter to stay in the know on all things sleep.

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