Sleepless In The Digital Age: How To Protect Your Sleep From Technology


By Dr Sanjay Pandey

India is the second-most sleep-deprived country in the world, with over 50 per cent of adults not getting enough sleep. A recent survey found that the average Indian sleeps for only six hours and 47 minutes per night, which is significantly less than the recommended seven to eight hours. The factors that affect sleep could include a lot of lifestyle, biological, and environmental factors, such as meal time, stress, and hormonal changes.

But the latest addition to the list is ‘screen time’ – and the exposure to the blue light from the devices. Knowing how screen time affects sleep is important. Primarily, it concerns the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Our brain releases over 80 per cent of melatonin only in the evening, when the sun goes down, to signal our body that it is time to sleep. However, when we are exposed to blue light (from electronic devices) in the evening, our brain is tricked into thinking that it is not night yet. Hence, it delays or reduces the production of melatonin.

3S for Good Sleep

Sleep is necessary for our physical and mental health. Adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep per night, while babies and young children need a few more hours. During sleep, our bodies undergo several physiological and biological changes that help us rest and repair. Among the key things that you can adopt in your lifestyle are the 3 Ss of screen time, sunlight exposure, and sleep schedule:

Screen time

WHO guidelines recommend that children under two years old should have no screen time at all; children from two to five years old should have no more than one hour of screen time per day; and children from six to 17 years old should have no more than two hours of screen time per day.

Though the WHO does not have specific guidelines for screen time for adults, it does recommend that adults limit their overall sedentary time to less than six hours per day. This includes time spent watching TV, using digital devices, and sitting for work or other activities.


Spend time outdoors in the morning and afternoon. Go for a walk or bike ride during the day. When we are exposed to sunlight, it helps to shift our body’s clock forward, making us feel more alert. In the evening, when the sun goes down, our body’s clock starts to shift back, making us feel sleepy.

Sleep schedule

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is important because it helps regulate the body’s internal clock. When we go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, it helps to keep the clock in sync. This makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the right times, and it can also improve our overall sleep quality. A bedtime routine can also help signal to our body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

In the screen age, sleep deprivation is becoming a serious health issue. It is time for us to wake up and take action to address this problem.

(The author is the head of the Department of Neurology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad)

[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.]

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