Junk sleep is a term used to describe a physiological effect where proper REM is not achieved because one has been using consumer electronics right up until the moment of falling asleep (in addition to often leaving them on, which continues to disrupt the sleeping process). The term was popularized by a four undergraduate students at NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in Singapore. Their main was the idea that using electronic devices right before bed would affect sleep in a negative way. They created an educational site called "Good in Bed" about the issues surrounding what they called "Junk Sleep".
In order to avoid junk sleep, the graduate students suggest not touching cell phones or laptops a half hour before bed. They mention that junk sleep is a result of both the devices that carry the content and the content on the devices. The brightness of the screen, portability of the device, nature of the content on the devices, how the content is displayed and type of content that is consumed all play a role in connecting one's mind to certain activity flows.
Social networking sites structure and dump content into the brain at a compressed rate. They are comprised of a set of unrelated micro-narratives tied together by an interface that provides endless opportunities to interact with content. Unlike a book, these social sites are formatted for quick information absorption, whereas the narrative of a book unfolds slowly, ideas building up on each other over time. Using a social network or browsing through the Internet before bed tricks the brain into becoming more active instead of preparing for sleep. It can lead to a false sense of awareness.
"Reading from an iPad before bed not only makes it harder to fall asleep, but also impacts how sleepy and alert you are the next day, according to new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts."
- The Big Bedroom Bustup @ Zouk – Overcoming Junk Sleep. Nanyang Technological University. Published 17 Feb 2010. Accessed 03 July 2011. http://www.wkwsci.ntu.edu.sg/NewsMedia/Pages/NewsReleasesArchival.aspx
- Beres, Damon. Reading On A Screen Before Bed Might Be Killing You. The Huffington Post. Posted 23 Dec 2014. Accessed 29 Dec 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/23/reading-before-bed_n_6372828.html