Allison Eden of the Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences said she was surprised by the research results, but intrigued by support for a more nuanced view on the effects of media on sleep.
The team found there was a lot of cross-sectional survey work and data collection in labs, but nothing that used scientifically validated sleep measures and media diaries in people’s homes.
“We realized we couldn’t answer the question until we used those data collection methods,” she said. “We anticipated that the popular narrative was not the total picture.”
The research began with the assumption that media use before bed was bad for sleep hygiene. A pool of 58 participants ages 19-66 were equipped with a media diary and an EEG sleep monitor to use for a week. On day one, participants learned how to use the data collection tools. On days two, three and four, participants kept a diary of their media use and recorded their sleep patterns using the sleep tracker. At the end of the week, the participants reviewed the diary and data with researchers.
Contrary to the original assumption, the study showed that participants who used media in bed for a short period fell asleep earlier and enjoyed more sleep.Read more about the study on media use before sleep on MSU’s website.