Social media is so fun, but is it ruining your sleep? There have been so many studies on the effects of social media that we can now tell without a doubt.
How social media is addictive.
The first social platform was Six Degrees. Launched in 1997, the network was short-lived, and Friendster became a phenomenon in 2001. Quickly, time started slipping away as we scrolled through profiles and “met” new people near and far. The simple fact that you can scroll mindlessly through social media profiles is what causes the biggest issue for our sleep cycles.
“According to a study, people spend an average of eight minutes at a time going down YouTube rabbit holes. The neuroscience of curiosity tells us that learning bits of information activate various regions in the brain — including the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area, and hippocampus.” (Swaddle.com)
In simpler terms, our brains become addicted to the constant scrolling and byte-sized entertainment. We start by looking at one video, then the following video is somewhat related, and we watch that too. Before very long, YouTube (Or Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook) has used its algorithm to understand what entertains you. The type of videos you love continues to pop up over and over.
How common is it to look at social media at night?
In one study of 855 hospital employees and university students, 70% said they looked at social media at bedtime or during typical sleep hours. (National Library of Medicine)
What’s the problem?
Scrolling through your feed is ruining your sleep by breaking your circadian rhythm. As natural beings, we should wake up with the sun and go to bed when the sun goes down. By using false light, we are telling our brains that it’s daytime and we should wake up. When we use blue light (like a computer or cell phone screen), it makes it harder for our brain to shut down. Then, add the distraction and stimulation of fast-moving content. Your brain is not just awake but taking in stressors, like comparing yourself to others, fear of missing out, and unrealistic goals.
How to get better sleep AND live with social media.
It might be best for your health and wellbeing to avoid social media, but that’s not always possible or easy. Instead, try the following tricks:
- Turn off all notifications.
- Cut off after dinner time.
- Put an alarm for switching off or even a limit on your phone.
- Do not keep the phone beside your bed.
- Take the apps off your phone altogether.
- Don’t let yourself check the phone before your morning coffee, and do not check in the middle of the night.
- Keep a charging spot in your house, out of all bedrooms, and away from the dinner table.
Social media should be fun, but if it controls other aspects of your life, it has become a kind of addiction. Try keeping track of your social media time in a sleep journal to see how it affects your sleep.
If you need more tips like these, please bookmark this page and check back next week for more!