What is Nudge Theory?

Why can’t we sleep?

Why do I never feel well rested?

To answer this question, we first need to be honest with ourselves.

How many nights in a week do you stay up late into the night mindlessly scrolling through your phone?  Only to wake up feeling groggy, irritable, and still feeling exhausted?

Well, you are not alone.

While smartphones are fun to use; be it reading interesting threads on reddit, following your favourite celebrity meme pages, or playing games; they can severely interfere with our sleep quality.

Should I keep smartphones out of the bedroom?

The answer is: Yes!

One of the most intriguing findings of smartphone research, has been the simple fact that we keep our phones in the same room we sleep in, i.e., the bedroom, interferes with our sleep.

This is due to a phenomenon called sleep text1. Sleep texting, i.e., texting during the time we sleep, results in us going in and out of sleep cycles.

Sleep Texting is prevalent in people who go to bed with their smartphones in proximity, often next to their pillow and head. Sleep texters often report poor quality of sleep while having no memory of having sleep texted during the night.

How do smartphones affect my sleep?

Smartphone screens, or any other digital devices screens, emit blue light2 which has been found to link to disruptions in our circadian rhythm.

In normal circadian cycles, our brain produces more melatonin3 at night – a sleep hormone – which signals to the rest of our body that it is time to go to bed.

However, blue light emitted from smartphone screens inhibits the production of melatonin, which makes us more alert and less likely to fall asleep at our regular bedtime.

Moreover, blue light also has been found to reduce the time we spend in REM sleep, during which we dream.REM sleep4, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep, fosters memory retention, emotional memory processing. REM-sleep deprivation interferes with our emotional regulation and memory consolidation.

The effect of being exposed to blue light from smartphones hinders us from winding down naturally with bodily cues, and the ability to have a restful sleep.

Does the nature of my smartphone use affect my sleep?

Research5 has shown the more engaging an activity is before bedtime, the harder it is for us to get a good night’s sleep.

Playing simulation games on our smartphones, particularly strategy and adventure games, requires active attention and tends to reduce our sleep quality. Due to higher demand on our cognitive functions, concentrations, and memory capacity, engaging in active smartphone use right before bed is not advisable.

Do you want to get a good night’s sleep? Here’s 5 Tips you can follow today!

1.    Place your smartphone somewhere far enough from you.

Not by the bed stand, not in the bed, and not under your pillow. Placing your smartphone far from you discourages you from reaching for it out habit, out of boredom, and more importantly out of temptation when you’re already asleep.

2.    Check your phone sparingly before your bedtime

The general rule-of-thumb is to stay off your smartphone or any electronic devices 1 to 2 hours before bed. This allows time for your body to relax and begin resting.

3.    Do not engage in active smartphone use

Playing adrenaline-filled games increases stress and cognitive load on our brains which prevents a good night’s sleep. Instead, do these activities at a time when you wish to boost your alertness and improve mental capacity, perhaps at the start of your work day.

4.    Limit stimulus of external pressure and anxiety – Don’t scroll through social media before your bed-time

Even though this is a relatively passive activity, it can still interfere with your emotions – inducing FOMO, social pressure, social anxiety and more. This makes us think we need to be constantly connected, increasing our alertness and keeps us in an agitated state.

5.    Start a bed-time routine

This could be taking a hot shower, having a glass of warm milk, lighting a candle, reading a book, or listening to your favourite album.

Having a sustainable, winding down routine helps us become less distracted by our smartphones. Following a sleep routine not only builds a healthy habit, but helps us associate sleep with rewarding activities

Use these 5 tips and your body, brain and heart will thank you in the long term!

If you want to learn more about tips and tricks to optimise your environment for restful sleep, or use your smartphones less, check out our Waitasec app!


  1. Dowdell, E. B., & Clayton, B. Q. (2019). Interrupted sleep: College students sleeping with technology. Journal of American College Health, 67(7), 640-646.
  2. Tosini, G., Ferguson, I., & Tsubota, K. (2016). Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Molecular vision, 22, 61.
  3. Cajochen, C., Kräuchi, K., & Wirz‐Justice, A. (2003). Role of melatonin in the regulation of human circadian rhythms and sleep. Journal of neuroendocrinology, 15(4), 432-437.
  4. Wiesner, C. D., Pulst, J., Krause, F., Elsner, M., Baving, L., Pedersen, A., ... & Göder, R. (2015). The effect of selective REM-sleep deprivation on the consolidation and affective evaluation of emotional memories. Neurobiology of learning and memory, 122, 131-141.
  5. Kheirinejad, S., Visuri, A., Ferreira, D., & Hosio, S. (2022). “Leave your smartphone out of bed”: quantitative analysis of smartphone use effect on sleep quality. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 1-20.

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