By Annie Hayes
You don’t need us to tell you that staring into the piercing glare of your phone screen isn’t conducive to a solid night’s kip. But according to a new study, certain apps are more disruptive than others after an evening of scrolling the timeline.
The worst culprit? TikTok, apparently. It’s the most disruptive to your sleep cycle overall, according to research conducted by sleep science and review platform Sleep Junkie, with sleep-starved users taking one hour and seven minutes to fall asleep after using the video app.
Once soundly asleep, they’ll spend a mere 14 per cent of their sleep cycle in the REM (rapid eye movement) phase, almost half of the recommended amount for a healthy adult. REM sleep stimulates the areas of your brain that are essential for learning and retaining memories – nuking any possibility of recalling those memes.
By comparison, study participants who ditched their phones entirely before bed – and therefore had no electronic engagement – spent 23 per cent of their sleep in REM; well within the 20-25% per night proposed by sleep experts.
TikTok may be the most disruptive, but Instagram didn’t fare much better, with Stories scrollers spending 15.5% of their night in REM sleep and taking 58 minutes to catch ZZZ’s. Snapchat users managed a marginally more respectable 16 per cent REM sleep and fell asleep after 56 minutes.
Surprisingly, Twitter and Facebook fared the best. Tweeters spent 18 per cent of their sleep in the REM phase and took 50 minutes to drift off, while Facebook users enjoyed 19.5 per cent REM and spent 45 minutes trying to get some shut-eye.
So what gives? The researchers reckon TikTok is especially disruptive since it stimulates the release of adrenaline and dopamine, providing a hit of energy and a rush of happiness – inspiring further scrolling. And, more generally, the blue light emitted from your phone blocks the release of melatonin, which interferes with your circadian rhythm.
The answer, as ever, is to limit your social media use in the evening, especially in the two hours before bed. And if you’re already tossing and turning after an evening glued to your phone? Try this breathwork technique. It’s proven to reduce the time it takes to nod off, while improving your overall sleep quality. #FitTok will still be there when you wake up.
This article was first published on Men’s Health UK.