Many patients tell me they scroll through Facebook and Instagram to “zone out”.  When people can’t sleep, it’s almost reflexive these days to grab your phone and start scanning.

But this ‘zoning out’ with social media is far from beneficial for your falling asleep.

Why is this counterproductive for falling asleep?

1Scrolling through your phone actually helps to keep you awake.


Physically moving your finger is like fidgeting, a way for your body to fight drowsiness.

2The light.

The Insomnia File: Social Media

Light from cellphones can suppress melatonin, keeping us alert.

3Emotional charge.

What we scroll through isn’t neutral. Often the images trigger emotional reactions just outside our awareness. Perhaps you notice a photo of supposed “friends” at an event where you weren’t included. Your partner commenting on someone else’s attractive selfie. Or maybe you end up time travelling down the internet rabbit hole and find yourself looking at photos of an ex from 5 years ago.





These are all important and valid human emotions, but not likely the ones you want to invoke when you want to get some zzzzzzz.

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Dr Jennifer Hirsch, MD FRCPC Psychiatrist, Sleep Medicine SpecialistMedSleep (Toronto Sleep Institute) and Reproductive Mental Health (Mount Sinai Hospital)Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto Dr Hirsch completed her residency in Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She also has a fellowship in Sleep Medicine. She earned her Doctor of Medicine at the University of Calgary-Cumming School of Medicine after graduating from McGill University with a major in mathematics and statistics.At the Toronto Sleep Institute, Dr Hirsch sees a wide range of sleep disorders including: insomnia, hypersomlenence, sleep-related breathing and movement disorders. In addition, she works as a Reproductive Psychiatrist, managing patients with mental illness both during pregnancy and post-partum. Dr Hirsch runs the Perinatal Mindfulness Meditation program at Mount Sinai Hospital and practices Interpersonal Psychotherapy.Lastly, Dr Hirsch works and supervises resident-trainees in the Emergency Department at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health



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