TikTok Wants to Help You Get Better Sleep – But Will It Work?

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Woman reading on phone before bed

We’re spending more time than ever on apps –in fact, app monitoring firm App Annie found that some people are spending upward of five hours a day on our phones. Whether it’s doomscrolling past midnight or a little sleep revenge procrastination after a long day, our social media usage, in particular, is off the charts — not the least of which is Tik Tok, the 6th most popular social media platform in the world

In the brand’s latest effort to help users manage their screen time, Tik Tok is rolling out a new sleep reminders feature, according to TechCrunch. Just as it sounds, the sleep reminders (located in screen time settings in the application) will allow users to set up bedtime alerts and mute notifications while they’re catching their forty winks. And Tik Tok isn’t reinventing the wheel here. Just as you’d imagine, the reminders are notifications that prompt users to close the app when the clock strikes their preselected time. 

And while sleep reminders may seem pretty novel, it’s really just another iteration of time management and safety features Tik Tok has previously rolled out. 

Ahead of the June 2022 launch of an in-app tool that helps users schedule regular screen-time breaks, Jordan Furlong, a group product manager at TikTok, wrote in a blog post, “Having a positive relationship with digital devices and apps isn’t just about measuring screen time, it’s also about feeling in control of how we use technology and ensuring that the time we spend online contributes positively to our sense of well-being.”

Beyond the screen time breaks feature, Tik Tok also offers daily screen time limits and nighttime notification restrictions for teen accounts.

Will TikTok’s Sleep Reminders Work?

The experts say sleep reminders may work for some folks, but it really depends on the individual. 

According to Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib, a neuroscientist and consultant at Wesper, a sleep disorder diagnostics and long-term sleep health platform, the sleep reminder feature has its work cut out for it.

“Social media uses strong psychological techniques that feed the reward centers of the brain,” she says. “This means that the brain is pressured to continue using what makes us feel good (in this instance, TikTok). Thus, we can easily become addicted and find ourselves driven to use it at inappropriate times, such as when we should be sleeping.”

Ultimately, she says, she’s skeptical this will be something that works well for most people. 

Not Into Sleep Reminders? Try a Digital Detox Instead

Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown, a board-certified pediatric respiratory sleep medicine doctor and founder of Restful Sleep MD, offers the following tips to help you dial back your screen time: 

  • Try a social media fast. If you can’t quit your apps cold turkey (hey, we don’t blame you), Afolabi-Brown recommends limiting your usage to the daytime if possible. 
  • Make it hard to access your phone when you are in bed by charging it far from your bed or, better still, by setting up a charging station outside your room.
  • Enlist help by asking a friend or family member to monitor your usage and hold you accountable (kids and spouses are great candidates for this, she notes).

Or Try Sleep Hygiene for Better, More Restful Sleep

In addition to the tips above, fine-tuning your sleep hygiene can go a long way in prepping your body and mind for sleep – plus, the sleep you will get will likely be more restorative. (I know, you’ve probably heard this advice a million times over, but that’s because it really works.)

Rohrscheib recommends putting away your electronics, dimming the lights, and doing a relaxing, screen-free activity at least an hour before bed (such as reading or meditating). “For best results, you should also be going to bed and waking up at the same time daily, even on weekends or holidays,” she adds. 

At the time of publication, Tik Tok is rolling the sleep reminders feature out to only a select group of users. No doubt, opening the floodgates to all users will largely depend on user attitudes toward and performance of the feature. 

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.

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