According to this Bloomberg Businessweek article using electronics before bed may hamper sleep.

Is it true that using a computer, watching T.V. or using some other type of face-to-screen electronics before going to bed causes people to have trouble sleeping?

  • Skeptics is for verifying notable claims. Please edit your question such that it is asking about a notable claim, and include a source of notability.
    – Ephraim
    Apr 22, 2012 at 16:59
  • Welcome to the site! I have restricted your question to sleeping because we already have this and this.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 22, 2012 at 17:02
  • 6
    There's an overview of the research here, compiled by the creators of f.lux, which is software that aims to minimize the problematic sleep effects of blue light from a computer screen.
    – Dave
    Apr 22, 2012 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


Make your own conclusion from the sources mentioned

This is evidence showing that using face-to-screen electronics before going to bed could harm your sleep.

  • For instance, this study, published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes found that smartphone use after 9 p.m. was associated with decreased sleep quantity at night. Moreover, researchers also examined the use of other electronics -- such as desktop or laptop computers, tablets and TV -- and found similar results

  • Another study from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), found that:

    iPad readers had reduced secretion of melatonin, a hormone which normally rises in the evening and plays a role in inducing sleepiness".

  • A 2008 study funded by major mobile manufacturers showed that people exposed to mobile radiation took more time to fall asleep and spent less time in deep sleep.

  • Another study found that screen time before sleeping hurts sleeping cycle in young people, and concluded:

    Screen sedentary time dominated the presleep period in this sample and was associated with a later sleep onset. The development of interventions to reduce screen-based behaviors in the presleep period may promote earlier sleep onset and ultimately improved sleep duration in young people.

  • Another study called ICT use and mental health in young adults found that:

    Intensive computer use (“intensive” in terms of duration of use or continuous use without breaks) was a prospective risk factor for reporting sleep disturbances in the men and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression in the women.

  • Another study found that teenagers who used a computer in the hour before bedtime were nearly three times as likely to get less than five hours sleep

  • To make the evidence definitive, a study published in nature Perspective: Casting light on sleep deficiency found that:

    The use of electric lights at night is disrupting the sleep of more and more people.

  • A Harvard report examined some research and confirmed that reading light-emitting e-books before bed, like computer tablets, could have a detrimental effect on sleep, which can in turn lead to serious health problems:

    During the two-week inpatient study, twelve participants read digital books on an iPad for four hours before bedtime each night for five consecutive nights. This was repeated with printed books. The order was randomized with some reading on the iPad first and others reading the printed book first. Participants reading on the iPad took longer to fall asleep, were less sleepy in the evening and spent less time in REM sleep. They had reduced secretion of melatonin, a hormone that normally rises in the evening and plays a role in inducing sleepiness. Additionally, iPad readers had a delayed circadian rhythm, indicated by melatonin levels, of more than an hour. Participants who read on the iPad were less sleepy before bedtime but were sleepier and less alert the following morning after eight hours of sleep. Although iPads were used in this study, researchers also measured other devices that emit blue light, including eReaders, laptops, cell phones and LED monitors.

  • 1
    Professor Russell Foster of Oxford-rsb.org.uk/images/pdf/russell-foster.pdf had previously downplayed concerns about electronic devices and melatonin levels, stating that melatonin levels are not a good way to predict how much sleep someone will get. "There is no empirical evidence that suggests that lower levels of melatonin will have a direct effect on the sleep axis. Making the jump from the biology of what we know of melatonin to the effect it's having on sleep is completely flawed" Oct 26, 2015 at 8:51
  • 3
    Almost all the studies you cite are about correlation, but your summary is about causation. You must distinguish the two. Secondly, the strongest study you cite is the last, but it's based on 12 participants: it's not "overwhelming" evidence by any stretch.
    – Sklivvz
    Oct 26, 2015 at 9:25
  • 1
    This comment thread is getting a bit too personal, everyone please try to focus on the subject and not the involved users.
    – Mad Scientist
    Oct 26, 2015 at 10:44
  • A Nature Perspective is more like a news article, it is not a peer-reviewed paper and not a study.
    – Mad Scientist
    Oct 26, 2015 at 10:45
  • 1
    Well, as the bounty initiator, I'm satisfied by the answer. It is obviously not possible to draw certain causation, but it is plausible enough with current science - when I first heard about this I was skeptic that a) somebody has actually found lower melatonin levels associates with the use of screens and b) that use of screens would be associated with less sleep QUALITY (not quantity, because that could be just because the person enjoys reading/playing and stays awake longer). Of course, 12 people is a small n, needs replication, but beeing crossover (sort of) adds a little value. Nice.
    – tpianca
    Oct 31, 2015 at 21:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .