Social Media and Sleep

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Orthosomnia 1

Whether you need to figure out how to pick a pineapple or check the validity of your opponent’s Scrabble “word,” it’s all at your fingertips, courtesy of the tiny computer in your hands. And while smartphones have opened up a world of possibilities, they also brought us social media. 

When used as intended, social media helps us stay in touch with loved ones and keep up with what’s new and great. But there’s a darker side to socials. When you consider how these platforms marry doomscrolling, unmanaged dopamine hits, and the comparison trap, it’s no secret how and why social media and sleep make poor bedfellows. And there’s plenty of proof in the numbers. 

With the help of CloudResearch’s Connect survey platform, Sleepopolis surveyed 1,495 American adults on their screen usage and sleep habits in 2023. Ultimately, the survey revealed that social media is having a profound effect on our sleep health, and Gen Z is outpacing other generations. According to the survey: 

  • 78.3 percent of Gen Z said they used social media most or all nights before bed
  • 42 percent of people fall asleep with and wake up to social media on most or all days
  • Stress levels reported by respondents rose with the frequency of their morning and evening social media and screen usage 
  • Gen Z said screens keep them up for an average of 3.1 nights per week ⁤

This data provides just a little peek at how social media is affecting us — read on to learn more. 

Note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice, and it shouldn’t take the place of medical advice and supervision from a trained professional. If you feel you may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see your healthcare provider immediately.

Long Story Short

  • Social media can profoundly impact sleep by boosting arousal and anxiety and exposing us to blue light emitted from our devices.
  • Teens are particularly vulnerable to the pitfalls of social media as a result of emotional sensitivity and social pressure.
  • Quitting social media or curbing your time on it can improve sleep quality and duration.

How Does Social Media Affect Sleep? 

Social media was created to encourage digital connections and socialization. (1) And while the host of platforms now available can certainly do that, they have also developed an ugly side — one where stress, anxiety, and isolation live. From the constant pressure to stay connected to the comparison traps that target self-esteem (especially among kids), social media can be stress-fueled and anxiety-ridden. (2)

Ray Christner, Psy.D., NCSP, ABPP, who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, adds

“The constant exposure to news, comparisons with others, and online interactions can lead to heightened stress levels, making it challenging to relax and get a good night’s sleep.” 

And let’s not forget social media’s interactive nature, which does a bang-up job of keeping the brain engaged. Not only do our favorite apps make it difficult to wind down before bed, but study after study has shown that whether we’re talking about the effect of electronic devices or the use of social media specifically, users are staying up later, losing sleep, and obliterating their sleep quality. (3)

Beyond “hyping us up,” the use of social media further impacts our sleep by promoting blue light exposure from our devices and creating FOMO. 

Blue Light

Christner says the devices we use to access social media emit blue light, “which suppresses the production of melatonin — the hormone that tells our bodies it’s time to sleep.” (4) By stimulating wakefulness and tricking our brain into thinking it’s still daytime, Christner adds, “Blue light interferes with our natural sleep cycle.” (4) Most people will experience this as a delay in the onset of sleep, a reduction in sleep quality, and short sleep. (5)

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Christner says, “Social media can induce feelings of FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out. This emotional response can lead to anxiety and compulsive checking of apps, making it difficult to wind down and prepare for sleep. You might find yourself staying up late doomscrolling to keep up with the latest posts or conversations, ultimately disrupting your sleep schedule.” Christner adds, “At times, people will get up in the middle of the night to check their phones (possibly those addicted to scrolling TikTok), which further disrupts the sleep cycle and quality of sleep.” 

Social Media and Youth 

Teen vulnerability to the detrimental effects of social media and sleep may be a combination of social, emotional, and biological factors. 

Biologically, teens experience shifts in their circadian rhythms, making them more inclined to go to bed later. (6) However, adding social media to the mix, especially before bed, exacerbates those shifts and further delays sleep onset.

Socially, teens are more vulnerable to FOMO. Their intense desire to stay connected and up-to-date with their peers makes them stay up later than they should, often cutting into their sleep time. 

Emotionally, Christner says, “Adolescents are in an important stage of physical and mental development, and sleep is necessary for this process. Because teens are still developing self-regulation skills, they might find it harder to limit their social media use before bedtime.” 

And, of course, we can’t overlook the inherent stress and anxiety associated with social media use. While some teens may find the connectivity and peer support they’re looking for on these platforms, the unfortunate fact is social media can deliver a powerful blow to their mental health. 

Beyond the pitfalls of body image issues and cyberbullying, research shows that social media use can increase feelings of loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem. (7) (8) (9)

Ultimately, the impact of negative interactions and the pressure to be perfect online can and will have a profound impact on their overall sleep quality

Tips for Using Social Media (and Not Losing Sleep)

Ahead, Christner shares some tips to help you spare your sleep if refraining from social media isn’t an option.

Set a Specific “Wind-Down” Time

With the recommendation that it’s done at least an hour before bed, Christner says, “End your day by putting your devices down or away for the night. This can help minimize blue light exposure and signal your body that it’s time to sleep.” 

Use Night Mode on Your Devices

Noting that they aren’t perfect but may still be helpful, Christner suggests using your smartphone’s night mode setting to reduce your blue light exposure in the evening. 

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

“Having a routine without screens can help prepare your body and mind for sleep,” says Christner. “Reading a book, taking a warm shower, or doing some light stretches are great alternatives.”

Additionally, he advises setting boundaries for social media use and using any available tools to help manage it if need be. “Limit the amount of time you spend on social media during the day, especially before bed,” says Christner. “You might find apps or tools that help track or restrict your usage helpful.”  

Keep Your Bedroom a Screen-Free Zone

According to Christner, charging your phone outside your bedroom is big. “This reduces the temptation to check social media during the night and can improve your sleep quality,” he says, adding those who use their phone as an alarm clock can easily swap their phones out for a traditional alarm clock. 


What percentage of people lose sleep because of social media?

In 2022, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine commissioned an online survey examining social media and sleep. (10) Almost unsurprisingly, the survey revealed that as much as 80 percent of Americans said they have missed out on sleep because they stayed up “past their bedtime” hanging out on social media. Women lost more sleep than men, and Gen Z outpaced other generations.

Does quitting social media improve sleep?

Quitting social media may not be an option for everyone, but Christner says, “significantly reducing or modifying social media use can absolutely improve sleep.” He adds, “Removing the sources of blue light exposure, stress, and FOMO will make it easier to fall asleep and enjoy more restful sleep.” 

Christner notes, too, that “the benefits can vary from person to person. For some, a complete departure might be beneficial, while for others, setting strict boundaries and using social media more mindfully may be enough to see improvements in sleep quality.” Ultimately, he says, “I don’t think the goal should be a complete withdrawal from social media. Instead, people should learn how to live in balance with technology.”

The Last Word From Sleepopolis 

Social media is deeply ingrained in our lives, but while we continue to use it, we must understand its impact on our emotional health, our physical health, and our sleep. This is especially important for our teens, whose social media use often opens the doors to FOMO, stress, and impaired sleep.  


  1. Aichner T, Grünfelder M, Maurer O, Jegeni D. Twenty-Five Years of Social Media: A Review of Social Media Applications and Definitions from 1994 to 2019. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2021;24(4):215-222. doi:10.1089/cyber.2020.0134
  2. Zsila, Á., Reyes, M.E.S. Pros & cons: impacts of social media on mental health. BMC Psychol 11, 201 (2023).
  3. Pirdehghan A, Khezmeh E, Panahi S. Social Media Use and Sleep Disturbance among Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study. Iran J Psychiatry. 2021;16(2):137-145. doi:10.18502/ijps.v16i2.5814
  4. Yared L, Rodrigues K, Mangal R, Stead TS, Ganti L. Sleep Hygiene, Daytime Sleepiness, and Coping Mechanisms Amongst US Adults. Cureus. 2023;15(9):e45608. Published 2023 Sep 20. doi:10.7759/cureus.45608
  5. Silvani MI, Werder R, Perret C. The influence of blue light on sleep, performance and wellbeing in young adults: A systematic review. Front Physiol. 2022;13:943108. Published 2022 Aug 16. doi:10.3389/fphys.2022.943108
  6. Gradisar, M., Kahn, M., Micic, G. et al. Sleep’s role in the development and resolution of adolescent depression. Nat Rev Psychol 1, 512–523 (2022).
  7. Bonsaksen T, Ruffolo M, Price D, et al. Associations between social media use and loneliness in a cross-national population: do motives for social media use matter? Health Psychol Behav Med. 2023;11(1):2158089. Published 2023 Jan 1. doi:10.1080/21642850.2022.2158089
  8. Azem L, Al Alwani R, Lucas A, et al. Social Media Use and Depression in Adolescents: A Scoping Review. Behav Sci (Basel). 2023;13(6):475. Published 2023 Jun 6. doi:10.3390/bs13060475
  9. Colak M, Bingol OS, Dayi A. Self-esteem and social media addiction level in adolescents: The mediating role of body image. Indian J Psychiatry. 2023;65(5):595-600. doi:10.4103/indianjpsychiatry.indianjpsychiatry_306_22
  10. AASM Sleep Prioritization Survey Social Media Impact on Sleep.

          Christner, Ray. Personal Interview.  March 4, 2024. 

Sharon Brandwein

Sharon Brandwein

Sharon Brandwein is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and a freelance writer. She specializes in health and beauty, parenting, and of course, all things sleep. Sharon’s work has also appeared on ABC News, USAToday, and Forbes. When she’s not busy writing, you might find her somewhere curating a wardrobe for her puppy.