Earlier this year, a group of scientists published a study in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B that was, in part, about the sleeping patterns of individuals in Amish and Mennonite communities. The reason that a sleep study might target Amish and Mennonites is perhaps obvious when you think about it: individuals in both communities generally forgo most electronics, including devices like smartphones and tablets — essentially, the kinds of blinking bright gadgets that are known to interfere with human sleep.
Specifically, the researchers’ goal was to learn about how stress and mood disorders impact not only one’s immediate ability to sleep, but whether any of those traits can be genetically passed on to one’s children. Structuring the study around a community with limited electronic technology was critical to the researchers’ findings (which, notably, were unequivocal: environmental stress and mental health both can have detrimental effects on one’s sleep quality). If you think sleeping is difficult when you feel anxious or suffer from a psychological illness, that is nothing compared to how much worse it gets when you’re also surrounded by electronic technology.