Home Cyberpsychology & Technology Scrolling Endlessly: The Hidden Damage to Your Sleep and Long-Term Health

Scrolling Endlessly: The Hidden Damage to Your Sleep and Long-Term Health

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In the age of social media, scrolling through TikTok has become a nightly ritual for many. While it might seem like harmless entertainment, this habit can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns and overall health. 

Rob Barton, a health expert from Factory Weights, tells us how endless scrolling on TikTok before bed is damaging your sleep and the long-term consequences you might not realise.

The impact on your sleep cycle

  • Blue light exposure. Smartphones and tablets emit blue light, which interferes with melatonin production – the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. Exposure to blue light before bed can delay the onset of sleep, reducing sleep quality and making it harder to wake up refreshed.
  • Disrupted circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Consistent exposure to bright screens at night can disrupt this rhythm, leading to irregular sleep patterns and making it difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.
  • Sleep fragmentation. Engaging with stimulating content right before bed can lead to fragmented sleep. The excitement or emotional reactions triggered by TikTok videos can make it harder for your brain to transition into the restful stages of sleep, leaving you feeling tired and groggy the next day.

Long-term health consequences

  • Cognitive decline. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to cognitive decline, affecting memory, attention, and decision-making skills. Over time, inadequate sleep can contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Mental health issues. Lack of sleep can exacerbate mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. The constant stimulation from social media can also increase feelings of stress and social anxiety, further impacting mental well-being.
  • Weak immune system. Sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system. Continuous sleep disruption can weaken your body’s ability to fight off infections, making you more susceptible to illnesses.
  • Weight gain and metabolic issues. Poor sleep is associated with weight gain and an increased risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Sleep deprivation affects hormones that regulate hunger, leading to increased appetite and unhealthy eating habits.

Breaking the cycle

  • Set boundaries. Establish a cut-off time for using electronic devices, ideally an hour before bedtime. This allows your body to wind down and prepares you for a good night’s sleep.
  • Create a bedtime routine. Develop a calming pre-sleep routine that does not involve screens. Activities like reading, meditating, or taking a warm bath can signal to your body that it’s time to prepare for sleep.
  • Use night mode. If you must use your phone or tablet before bed, enable the night mode or blue light filter to reduce the impact on your melatonin production.
  • Prioritise sleep. Recognise the importance of sleep for your overall health and well-being. Make it a priority by creating a sleep-friendly environment and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Mindful consumption. Be mindful of the content you consume before bed. Opt for relaxing or less stimulating content that won’t trigger emotional responses or heightened alertness.

Health and sleep expert Rob Barton from Factory Weights says: “Endless scrolling on TikTok might seem like a harmless way to unwind, but its impact on your sleep and long-term health is significant. By setting boundaries and creating a healthier bedtime routine, you can protect your sleep quality and overall well-being. Prioritise your sleep and make mindful choices to ensure you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day.”

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