What to do when sleep is disturbed by technology

What to do when sleep is disturbed by technology

They call it tech sleep. It is the modern habit of sleeping with a background of noise and lights. That is, with the mobile phone, tablet or television on. A sort of risky lullaby, a sleep disturbed by technology, which creates a real one form of addictionso much so that it becomes difficult to fall asleep in the absence of these situations.

The brain remains alert

“Many keep their cell phones on next to the bed and don’t silence it,” he explains Vincenza Castronovopsychologist and psychotherapist of the Sleep Medicine Center of the San Raffaele hospital in Milan.

“The sounds that signal the arrival of a message, an email, a post on a social network keep the brain in a state of alert and create micro oscillations called CAP, an acronym for cyclic alternating pattern. The sleep becomes unstable“.

The function of the CAPs should be to act as a bridge between the various stages of sleep, protecting the continuity of a good quality rest. In the event of external noises or light sources, the CAPs lose their physiological function and become simple disruptive micro-awakenings. And if sleep becomes not very restful, during the day there can be consequences such as memory loss, irritability and fatigue.

How to get out of the vicious circle

«A vicious circle is established in those who can no longer do without light and noise. The brain develops a conditioning and registers it as positive, since lights and noises have become “useful” for sleeping»Explains Dr. Castronovo.

«It is therefore necessary to reverse the situation. Some people do it on their own by adopting the rules of good sleep. For others, a specialist visit to a sleep center is required to begin a cycle of sessions cognitive behavioral therapy“.


The rules of good sleep

Some specific techniques to counteract technological sleep are taught individually, but all must start from these rules:

  • Choose a bedtime ritual to relax. For example, drink milk, read a book.
  • Always go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  • Getting up when unable to sleep. Do something pleasant and go back to bed only when sleep returns.
  • Do not engage in physical activity after dinner: the sport carried out in the 4 hours before going to sleep disturbs sleep. The same is true for overly demanding intellectual activities.
  • Don’t try to catch up on sleep during the day.
  • Do not use the bedroom to work.
  • Avoid exciting substances such as coffee, tea and chocolate from 4pm onwards.
  • Do not smoke (at least in the evening) as nicotine is a stimulant substance.
  • Avoid falling asleep in front of the TV in the evening.
  • In the bedroom, keep the temperature cool and the environment dark and quiet.


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