Using certain types of media before bed may be beneficial, according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Researchers paid 58 adults (aged mean 26.14 years, 44 women, 45 White) participants in a Michigan State University community research pool to participate in the study. Participants recorded all traditional media (not social media) they consumed for entertainment or information purposes, including program names, time of consumption, and duration of consumption.

They were asked to put a sleep monitor on for at least 10 minutes before getting into bed and conduct their normal activities while wearing it. They were to note where they were when they used the media and whether they were engaging in any other activity while they used the media.


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The 58 participants completed 174 days of the diary. A total of 24 participants (41.38%) reported 42 days of media use in the hour before they went to bed (24.14%).

Media use before bed was associated with an earlier bedtime and increased total sleep time if the use of media did not involve multitasking, occurred in bed, and was of shorter duration. It did not impact the percent of time spent in deep sleep (N3 mean 87.14 minutes) and REM sleep (mean 90.57 minutes).

Limitations of the study include sole inclusion of weekdays, lack of knowledge of which media device was used, and issues with sleep machines (18 participants reported issues on at least 2 nights).

“The results of the present study suggest that it may be acceptable, and beneficial, to use some forms of media before bed, under certain conditions… More research is needed to better understand whether this finding in our adult population is due to life stage, development, or another reason,” the researchers noted.

The results also offer further insight into the mechanisms for how media use might influence adult sleep. The fact that bedtime and total sleep time were associated with media use, but not the percent of sleep spent in N3 and REM sleep, indicates support for sleep displacement (Exelmans & Van den Bulck, 2018; Van den Bulck, 2004) and sleep procrastination (Custers & Van den Bulck, 2012) as aspects to focus on in future research. It may be possible to create interventions that allow for media use before bed that do not lead to sleep displacement or procrastination.”

Reference

Ellithorpe ME, Ulusoy E, Eden A, et al. The complicated impact of media use before bed on sleep: Results from a combination of objective EEG sleep measurement and media diaries. J Sleep Res. Published February 8, 2022. doi:10.1111/jsr.13551