Sleep problems - A fatal side effect of digitalization?

“Sleep problems can be triggered by occupational and private stress as well as, in women, menopause.”

This is a quote from a recent report on the growing sleep problem by BARMER [1]–1243652. Well … professional and private stress, that sounds very undifferentiated and not so much at first, but the two terms actually trivialize their dimensions. Because the main question is: What exactly is occupational stress and what exactly is private stress? Tha range of what private and occupational stress can be, fills books.

Sleep problems or sleep disorders are also a diagnosis that certainly has an even more dramatic number of unreported cases than the percentage mentioned, as it is similar to depression and something that people in a meritocratic society are reluctant to admit. This goes as far as denying sleep problems. I’ve often been told in coaching sessions that they generally don’t have any sleep problems. That was probably true, but as it emerged in the course of the conversation, only through the use of medication or other alternative preparations.

Digitalization as a sleep killer?

The omnipresence of digitalization has had a huge influence on our lives over the last few years. And if you look closer, this is just the beginning. Politics, business and even the healthcare sector are crying out for more digitalization, and digital “little helpers” that are supposed to serve our health are springing up like mushrooms.

However, what effects this huge development will have on human health in the medium to long term is often kept secret. There is actually comparatively little interest in researching this area.

It is now clear that digitalization has played no small part in the exponential development of sleep problems, for example, as well as their effects on people in a wide variety of facets.

I`ve put together a selection of the most common effects below.

Sleep problems due to digitalization

  1. Light: On the one hand, it is the bright light and the color spectrum (blue light) of the screen, which, especially in the second half of the day, prevents sleep initiation (melatonin production) from occurring the longer we sit in front of a screen. Only increased sleep pressure allows us to fall asleep.
  2. Stimulus overload images/movies: Stress produces cortisol. Cortisol is the antagonist of melatonin. Permanent cortisol production hinders the production of the sleep hormone “melatonin”. Sensory overload is a central aspect, especially through social media. The subconscious also plays a strong role here, as even image sequences that we don’t consciously notice while scrolling are processed and stuck. But also the hight cutting frequency in films and news also has a high influence on stress potential due to the associated transmission of stimuli. The fear-mongering information policy of a wide variety of media, which reaches us 24/7 via digital devices, is doing its part to contribute to sleep disorders.
  3. Text overstimulation: But pure text content also has a high stress potential. If content upsets us and we allow ourselves to be drawn into the vortex of discussion, this also has consequences for the way the events are processed in the brain. This has fatal consequences, especially before going to sleep.
  4. Expectations:Digitalization is also full of expectations, especially when it comes to response times and accessibility. Stress is created on the message receiver’s side because a quick response is expected; on the sender’s side, stress is created when someone does not meet expectations in terms of response time. The same applies here: the closer to “go to bed time”, the more fatal.
  5. Advertising: But other “broadcasters” are also vying for attention. Pop-ups, advertising breaks, digital posters of all kinds scream at us 24/7 to draw our attention. Here too, although we can try to ignore them, our subconscious cannot be tricked so easily. Even when you go to the toilet during a commercial break, the increased volume tries to maintain acoustic contact with the you, even if you wisely don’t take your smartphone with you to the toilet.
  6. Addictive potential: The addictive potential of digitalization has a very special quality. Quite a few people have now reached a point where life takes place predominantly in the digital world. Abstinence is not seen as a benefit or detox, but rather as “missing out on time in life”, which then also affects sleep. People don’t want to sleep so they don’t miss anything. This was already very widespread even without digitalization (e.g. workaholics), but digital development has given it a much nastier version.
  7. Obligation to update: It’s not just the expectations regarding response time that harbor digital stress potential, but also the expectations regarding “being up to date”. Constantly new offers, updates, upgrades and the explosion in the use of apps, software, etc. cause stress after a certain age. Today’s knowledge will be out of date tomorrow. People are increasingly no longer able to keep up with the speed of digital development. In our projects we have encountered people who were unable to access their own emails… and that is not uncommon! Man can no longer get rid of the spirits that (supposed) progress called. Let’s be honest: What percentage of what Microsoft Word can do now do you actually use?
  8. Mobile communications: Mobile phone radiation is a much controversial topic. Studies that confirm negative effects and those that deny them are at odds. Our experiences? For the first time here in the Dominican Republic we at least have the opportunity to avoid WiFi. If we turn off our router, no other signal can be measured in the area. Even if cell phone reception is not particularly good here, it cannot be completely suppressed. But… the quality of sleep feels much better than where I lived before… as long as the neighbor’s dog doesn’t bark! As soon as the WiFi was left on overnight, we notice it in the morning. But this is a subjective perception.

My personal opinion on mobile communications:

Schlafprobleme durch Digitalisierung - Entdecke deine Zeit - Lernzeit

Everything around us is based on rhythms, waves, frequencies or (wave) radiation. Lots of words for what is essentially the same phenomenon. We ourselves also have a radiation field that is individual to each person. I don’t want to go into depth here. In my last article “Cymatics” I reported on how different tones can make different effects on substances such as water, quartz, etc. visible. We consist predominantly of water, and therefore it would be very naive to believe that waves of any form, such as sound waves, have no effect on humans. Anyone who has ever stood in front of an active bass speaker knows what I mean.

Each additional source of radiation creates more chaos in the body. You can compare it to a stone. If we throw a stone into the water, the waves will form evenly. If we now throw 5 stones into the water at the same time, chaos and a much more intense wave formation will occur. A uniformly controlled development of the occuring waves is no longer possible.

The situation is similar with radiation. If a radiation source may not be dangerous in itself, it is the sum that creates the problem, similarly, for example, with critical values ​​for pesticides in food. If I eat one food that adheres to the limit, it is different than if I eat 5 foods that each individually meet the limit. Then my total consumption may already be above the limit.

In principle, the effects of radiation would have to be measured for each individual person in the field in which he moves, but this would only be possible using wearables. So everyone has to decide how they want to optimize their sleep setting. It’s worth a trial for sure. We ourselves definitely try to expose ourselves to as little radiation as possible.

Sleep problems - Conclusion

I have really only touched on the stressful moments and potential causes of sleep problems and sleep disorders that can arise as a result of digitalization. And AI in particular will create further potential for stress here. The only example here is that “truth” will lose clarity in the future. Deepfakes are just beginning, and will cause us sleepless nights in the future when images and videos seem to prove something (about us?), but in reality are simply fake scenarios. I have already experienced this firsthand and it is not funny when the police, BKA and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution show up at the door because someone has pretended to be me. AI offers a whole new cornucopia of possibilities.

What to do?

Sleep is the number 1 regenerator. The increase in stimuli as shown above would actually require an increase in rest. Instead, the average sleep duration and sleep quality decrease. A downward spiral is emerging and I think that if left unchecked, the impact will be catastrophic. Giving blanket recommendations without knowing the specific situation is usually counterproductive, as it tends to trigger the reflex “It doesn’t work for me because…!”


  • Self-reflection is essential. If you are not mercilessly honest about your situation, you will not achieve the desired result.
  • The search for improvement must not become stressful in itself. Make time your friend, not your enemy.
  • Digitalization is ONE possible cause, among others.
  • Seek help. In coaching sessions, the aim is to approach possible causes step by step via the customer’s situation. As shown above, the topic of “digitization” should by no means be reduced to the topic of light alone.
  • As we can see above, sleep is no longer a night-time issue. The entire 24/7 sleep-wake rhythm(chronobiology) must be part of a strategy that has the sole aim of enabling sufficient regeneration. That’s why it’s not enough just to look at sleep.