When it comes to research on why we’re not sleeping, November was a busy month. Two separate studies came out. And both of them clearly identified specific activities that may be keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
In the first study, researchers measured Smartphone screen time among more than 23,000 people. Over a 30-day time window, total screen time averaged about 38.4 hours, which breaks down to about 3.7 minutes each hour.
The participants also completed a self-reported questionnaire used to determine sleep scores. It measures different aspects of sleep, such as sleep quality, how long it takes to fall asleep, how many hours a person sleeps and how well they function during the day.
After comparing Smartphone use against sleep patterns, the authors found that greater phone use is linked to shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep efficiency. Additionally, increased screen use within an hour of bedtime decreased the ability to fall asleep.
In an unrelated study, researchers found that people who sleep for five or fewer hours a night drink significantly more sugary caffeinated drinks, like sodas and energy drinks.
The team of investigators analyzed data on nearly 19,000 participants to determine dietary habits and sleeping patterns. This included total consumption of non-caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice and drinks with artificial sweeteners. Plain coffee, tea and water were also included.
It turned out that people who sleep five hours or less per night drank 21 percent more caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages than those who slept seven to eight hours. And people who slept an average of six hours a night drank 11 percent more of these beverages.
However, juice, tea and diet drinks were not associated with lower sleep duration.
“Short sleepers may seek out caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages to increase alertness and stave off daytime sleepiness,” said lead author Aric A. Prather, PhD. “However, it’s not clear whether drinking such beverages affects sleep patterns, or if people who don’t sleep much are more driven to consume them. Unfortunately, the data in the current study do not allow us to draw any conclusions about cause and effect.”
If you tend to drink beverages that are sugary and caffeinated, it’s a good idea to switch to something else a few hours before bedtime. Green teas that contain herbs like chamomile, valerian and lemon balm are especially good choices for a good night’s sleep.
And don’t forget to shut down your Smartphone!
As Smartphone Use Increases, So Does Lack of Sleep. News Release. University of California San Francisco. Nov 2016.
Study Links Shorter Sleep and Sugar-Sweetened Drink Consumption. News Release. University of California San Francisco. Nov 2016.