Restless Insights on Bedtime Device Usage

Note: This article was originally published on the CivicScience blog on July 6, 2015. 

It‘s 1am and you NEED to check your Twitter/Facebook status one more time to see how many “friends” appreciated your most recent post.  Lying awake in bed still, you watch a Miley Cyrus music video because why not, right?  Many Americans, me included, are guilty of using technology late at night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95% of Americans use some type of electronic device at least a few nights a week within an hour before going to sleep.  Although light-emitting screens have been linked to health problems and are especially harmful during the hour before you fall asleep, we continue to ignore the claims in lieu of staying connected and entertained throughout the entire day.

Information (useful or not) is oh-so-easily accessible via many different digital outlets nowadays, such as a mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, or TV.  With an infinite network of knowledge, the internet allows people to spend an overwhelming amount of time browsing and viewing content from a multitude of websites.

So which devices are being used at night and who is using them?  To understand this better, CivicScience conducted a survey with 8,548 respondents from June 12, 2015 to July 6, 2015 to figure out which is the last screen people typically look at before going to bed.

The most common screens people are viewing right before going to bed are their TV or mobile phone screens – each capturing over 30% of consumers.  However, this is only a piece of the story. Upon analyzing profiles of the respondents, several interesting trends began to emerge that provide insights into the various digital device users.

Let’s start with some basic demographics:


On average,

  • Those who answered mobile phone are 8% more likely to be women.
  • Those who answered tablet / e-reader are 18% more likely to be women.
  • Those who answered laptop or desktop computer are 24% more likely to be men.


On average,

  • Those who answered mobile phone are 75% more likely to be a millennial (18-34).
  • Those who answered tablet / e-reader are 31% more likely to be 35-44 years old.
  • Those who answered laptop or desktop computer are 60% more likely to be 24 and under and 31% more likely to be 65 or older.
  • Those who answered TV are 38% more likely to be 45 years or older.

Parental Status

On average,

  • Parents are 10% more likely to answer mobile phones and 11% more likely to watch TV before bed.
  • Grandparents are 41% more likely to watch TV before bed.

Annual Income

On average,

  • Those who answered laptop or desktop computer are 23% more likely to earn under $50k.
  • Those who answered they don’t use a device before bed are 2X as likely to earn more than $150K.

By cross-referencing other questions in CivicScience’s InsightStore™ platform, unique connections can be identified aside from the demographics:

  • Those who use a mobile phone before bed are slightly more likely (+9%) to be more outgoing and enthusiastic in social situations, whereas those who answeredlaptop or desktop computer are 13% more likely to be socially reserved. Looking at your phone before bed could be related to the need to stay connected and social at all times of the day.
  • People who answered mobile phone are also 27% more likely to make decisions based on their feelings and others’ feelings, whereas those who answered TVare 14% less likely than average to take feelings into account.
  • In a previous report we published, we found that those who have had a subscription to Netflix for more than a year are more likely to be younger. Therefore, it’s not too surprising to see that those who are on their mobile phone before bed are 48% more likely to say they have had a Netflix account for over a year, whereas those who answered TV are 27% more likely to say they don’t have a Netflix account and do not plan to get one.

These are merely a few connections that were identified from our InsightStore™, each providing a deeper understanding of the preferred “last screen.”

So a quick recap (focusing primarily on the top 3 answer choices: TV, mobile phone, and laptop or desktop computer) of what was learned from studying our survey question, “Which is the last screen you typically look at before going to bed?”  People who use their mobile phone before going to bed are more likely to be Millennial women who are more outgoing and enthusiastic and make decisions based on feelings opposed to objectivity.  Respondents who answered laptop or desktopcomputer are typically men under the age of 24 or men 65 years or older, those who tend to be self-contained and reserved, and more likely to be earning less than $50K a year.  And lastly, those who answered TV are likely to be older, grandparents and make decisions without considering one’s feelings.

Although studies show the negative consequences of using devices before going to sleep, the majority of people are still plugged in to their digital devices or watching TV before bed, hoping to keep up with the flow of new updates and knowledge. Knowing that a practically limitless supply of information exists at our fingertips and is waiting to be discovered appeals to us to never stop viewing content.  So regardless of the harmful effects of using these light-emitting devices before bed, our nightly habits are unlikely to change anytime soon.

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