If your screen time has shot up over the past year, you’re certainly not alone — the average British home worker may have lost up to 80 hours of sleep since the pandemic began.
According to calculations based on one study, it's estimated that blue light exposure can cost us up to 16 minutes of shuteye a night. As the boundaries between work life and home life blur, switching off has become more difficult than ever before.
Whether we’re working late at home, or if we’re simply reaching for our digital devices in the evening as a way to pass the time, we’re losing essential hours of sleep due to longer exposure to intense blue light.
In fact, late night scrolling is one of the worst culprits for disrupting our sleep patterns. When we’re wide awake in the small hours of the morning, our first resort is often to pick up our phones, adjusting our eyes to the overly bright screen glare beneath the covers at 3am. But what are we searching for when we can’t drift off again?
Using search trends analysis, we’ve created a timeline of sleepless Brits’ Google searches, showing some of the most common questions that people want answers to when they’re up through the night.
The most commonly searched sleep qualms
From triggering vivid dreams to restless nights, the pandemic has interrupted many of our sleep patterns, and we’re taking to search engines to find out why.
One of the earliest queries to spike is ‘how many hours of sleep do I need’, with searches at the highest point at midnight. At this point, we are likely convincing ourselves that we can squeeze in one more episode of the series we’re binging, or we’re calculating just how much extra sleep we can get by setting our alarm slightly later. Either way, loading up on screen time right before we attempt to sleep isn’t going to help us get to sleep any sooner.
For those that do choose to commit to one more episode, delaying bedtime leads to a 1am spike in searches for ‘how to fall asleep quickly’, as we frantically try to recover the past hour.
The top reasons keeping us awake
Our data revealed that snoring was one of the top culprits for disrupted sleep. The search for ‘best earplugs for snoring’ spikes at 2am, as the nation looks for ways to block out the annoyance with practical solutions, albeit at an impractical hour. Brits are extremely invested in finding ways to remedy this common irritation, with searches for ‘device that shocks you when you snore’ also spiking at 2am.
There’s also a flurry of searches around the million dollar question - ‘why can’t I sleep’, most frequently asked between 2am and 4am. And an evident wave of regret as searches for ‘how to get to sleep earlier’ soar around 2am — suggesting that 2am is the hour we become most conscious of hurtling towards the next morning’s commitments.
What kind of restless thoughts are we having?
Laying wide awake, we’re likely feeling the fear creeping up of missing the following day’s alarm, but our data shows that there’s an array of other interesting thoughts going through our minds too.
In the search for a remedy to sleeplessness, many Brits are searching for some form of soothing audio to ease themselves back to sleep. Searches for ‘sleep podcasts’ and ‘music for sleep’ both peak between 1am and 4am, as we seek out the right melodies to help us drift off, hours before the next sound we’ll hear is our morning alarm.
The data also suggests that some people find themselves falling into a cycle of overthinking, and many are losing sleep trying to answer some of life’s bigger questions that might be better addressed during the day — searches for ‘is there life on other planets’ peak at 2am, and ‘is my partner cheating on me?’ cross people’s minds at 3am.
Late night lurkers
Still hung up on being awake, some searchers start the hunt for effective solutions to their sleep woes to avoid ending up in the same predicament, with queries for ‘best herbs for sleep’ spiking at 3am.
We see sales of our LIGHTS OUT CBD oil drops at all hours of the night as people turn to natural sleep supplements, but over 50% of all late night sales* are between 10pm and midnight, making this a prime time that customers are actively primping their sleeping routines.
Optimising sleep is one of the best things that you can do for overall health and happiness. To help you avoid falling into a cycle of late night searches, we’ve outlined some of our top tips to help reset your bedtime routine:
- Wake up at the same time every day - Getting into a good routine is essential, and this begins in the morning, ensuring that you wake up around the same time each day. By resisting the temptation to snooze your alarm, you are essentially priming your body for your nightly rest.
- Prioritise rest during the day. It’s important to recognise that rest and sleep are not the same thing and we need both. With working from home and the demands of pandemic life, many people are lacking in rest which can directly impact the quality of our sleep. Allow yourself to embrace rest in all its forms and focus on the different types of rest we need - including physical, mental, and even sensory (looking at you, Zoom!).
- Keep evening snacks light – Eating late can affect sleep as the body will be working harder to process food as you’re sleeping. For late night snacks, opt for something that is low in calories and refined sugar, and higher in protein.
- Start a simple sleep journal – This will help you prioritise your sleep routine, as you start to track how you sleep, how you’re feeling, and identify patterns about what’s working (and what isn’t) to help you wind down and quieten the mind before bed. We love this journal from Papier as it helps you get organised and keep track of sleep and wider habits.
- Keep the phone out of reach. No matter how tempted you are, the blue light exposure can inhibit the release of sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, which can make it harder to get back to sleep. If you find yourself not being able to get to sleep or waking in the night, don’t fret. You might just need an extra helping, so choose an activity that you find soothing. This could be reading a book, doing some gentle stretches, some simple breath work, or listening to some relaxing music in a hot Epsom salt bath (magnesium from the salts also helps to act as a mild sedative).
- Remember there’s no silver bullet. When it comes to sleep it’s all about small lifestyle changes that can all add up to a better night’s sleep. Being consistent is key.
We’re with you on this sleep journey - here’s to enjoying many more restorative nights of sleep.
* LIGHTS OUT CBD DROPS UK Late Night Sales: almost 30% of all LIGHTS OUT CBD oil sleep drops sales at apothemlabs.com are made between 9pm and 7am (data from Jan 1st 2020 – March 1st 2021). CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system and its receptors. Through these interactions, CBD can affect many of the body’s functions, including the sleep-wake cycle. As well as helping to induce an overall feeling of calm, early research also suggests that CBD affects the release of cortisol, possibly acting as a sedative to help promote better sleep.
Data gathered via Google Trends, correct as at 01/03/21.