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The Worst Apps to Use Before Bed If You Want Good Sleep

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Photo: Peter Snaterse / Shutterstock

By now, we all know the virtues of powering down before bed: better sleep, less stress, and maybe even a better relationship with your partner—since you know, you'll have to talk before bed instead of staring at your phones. But the fact remains that setting your phone aside a couple hours before you head off to sleep is *much* easier said than done. (Related: 5 Things I Learned When I Stopped Bringing My Cell Phone to Bed)

Not willing to give up your nightly scrolling (hey, fair enough)? The least you can do is make informed choices about how you're using your pre-sleep phone time. That's why a new survey conducted by Mattress Advisor caught our eye. The mattress review site surveyed more than 1,000 people to find out exactly what their phone habits were before bed and how this affected their sleep. Here's what they found.

First, people definitely prefer to look at social media before bed above using their phone for other activities (like reading or playing games), with 77 percent of respondents saying that checking out apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter was their usual nighttime ritual. So which apps are worst for your sleep? Well, looks like if you use YouTube, Pinterest, or Facebook before bed, you might want to rethink your nighttime strategy.

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The survey found that people who used these three apps before bed not only had lower sleep quality but also lower sleep quantity. Interestingly, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Instagram users slept longer but still had less-than-ideal sleep quality. (BTW, did you know that research shows that the later you get to sleep, the worse your diet and exercise habits will be?!)

Another interesting little kernel of data: the average time people spent on various social media apps before actually falling asleep. While only 11 percent of people who used social media before bed used YouTube, those people spent an average of over 50 minutes watching videos in bed on the app. That's almost an hour shaved off of the time they could have been, you know, sleeping. Considering that many Americans are not getting nearly enough sleep, it seems like this probably isn't the *best* possible use of time spent in bed, right?

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Oh, and if you've ever fallen asleep with your phone in your hand, this research shows that you're not alone. Phew! Nearly half of the millennials surveyed said they'd experienced the 21st-century problem of waking up phone in hand, wondering what happened. Unsurprisingly, participants who did not use their phones before bed were the only ones who rated their nightly sleep quality as five out of five. #wompwomp.

So what's the takeaway here? It's probably not realistic to say you're never going to use your phone before bed ever again. But if you can skip using it a few times per week, set a time limit for how long you'll scroll before going to bed, or strategically choose which apps you'll use based on how long you tend to spend on them? Then you can probably count on logging some higher-quality shut-eye.

 

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