The impact of new technologies on our sleep perception

Sleep hygiene

Thanks to the multiplication of connected devices, everyone can now assess the quality of their sleep. A simple wristband can tell us whether we’ve had a good night’s sleep or whether, on the contrary, sleep disturbances have disrupted it. But beware: these new technologies can have a negative impact on the way we perceive our sleep.

Sleep perception and new technologies

Improving the quality of your sleep? That’s what a number of connected objects and applications offer: bracelets and sensors that record heart rate and breathing, devices that analyze optimal night-time conditions…

Very practical devices… when they don’t influence the perception of sleep. Indeed: the quest to acquire as much data as possible can, paradoxically, alter the way we perceive our nights, and become a source of anxiety leading to sleep disorders such as REM insomnia.

When poor perception leads to sleep disorders

Poor sleep perception has a name: paradoxal insomnia. A patient who suffers from it will have the impression of having slept little or badly, whereas he or she will have had a good night’s sleep and will show none of the classic signs that accompany sleep disorders (daytime sleepiness, reduced performance…).

For sleep specialists, REM insomnia can be explained by several factors:

  • The existence of a “dissociated state”, a mechanism that causes certain parts of the brain to remain awake while others are asleep;
  • A “state of hyperarousal”, manifested by frequent awakenings during the night;
  • A poor perception of sleep due to anxiety about the use of measuring devices.

Managing sleep perception disorders

REM insomnia is treated like any other sleep disorder: first, by measuring the quality of your sleep, using actimetry for example. This will generally reveal a discrepancy between the patient’s normal sleep and their perception of it on waking.

Treatment of sleep perception disorders will then involve cognitive-behavioral therapy to retrain the brain to rest, to associate the bed with a place to sleep, and to go to bed only when sleepiness occurs. While waiting for sleep, it is advisable to practice a calm, pleasant activity in a dark setting that is not stimulating for the brain.

A poor perception of sleep can lead to anxiety and impair the quality of rest.