With sleep being such a large topic for research, there is constantly new information being put on the internet. In my last post I talked about how sleep helps protect your mental health, physical health, overall quality of life, and even your safety. My goal for this next post is to leave college students feeling like they can identify whether the sleep advice they are getting is truthful and reliable. Many college students use social media and easily accessible websites to get current information on tons of different topics, so I will be analyzing different social media websites to determine whether these outlets are providing quality advice that college students should believe.
As a social networking site that anyone can create a page on, it is important to know whether the source is credible. I did find a great page that individuals looking for information about sleep could rely on. The page is run by Dr. Michael Breus who is a Clinical Psychologist as well as a Diplomat for the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The page is called The Sleep Doctor and Dr. Michael Breus posts his podcasts, articles and even just helpful tips to fall asleep. When searching Facebook for quality sources I highly suggest determining whether the page is verified. When looking at The Sleep Doctor’s page there is a blue checkmark, which is Facebook’s way of informing users that the page is authentic for the public figure, media company or brand it is claiming. It is important to stray away from the pages that don’t present information about the author or just post pictures with text on it. Looking for the blue checkmark and verifying the author is a reliable source by looking at their qualifications is a great way to determine credibility.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter allows anyone to create a profile about sleep whether they have reliable information or not. Many of the pages I found on Twitter are pages that attempt to provide quick information in 240 characters or less in tweets, often not providing links to where the information was received. If profiles do not provide references or have verified profiles (blue checkmark) it is difficult to determine whether their tweets should be trusted. A popular page is called the Sleep Well Blog, which uses hashtags and links to their blog for information on sleep disorders. However, the links are now unavailable, making the information they are giving followers unclear whether the statistics are accurate. Without knowing the background of the author it is very hard to tell whether the information is authentic research. However, there are profiles on Twitter that provide reliable information about sleep, such as the National Sleep Foundation, the Academy of Sleep Med and Dr. Michael Breus (The Sleep Doctor) who all have verified accounts on Twitter. The National Sleep Foundation is a credible source because it is a nonprofit in the United States that promotes the public’s understanding of sleep and sleep disorders while also sponsoring research in the sleep field. Individuals with sleep disorders could use this profile to get new information about research outcomes and helpful advice about their sleep disorder. The Academy of Sleep Med on Twitter, also known as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is a professional society in the United States that focuses mainly on sleep disorders and circadian rhythms. The AASM accredits companies for adhering to the AASM standards. The AASM profile on Twitter is a great spot to start when looking for credible sources about sleep because they post articles from companies they have accredited. In addition, there are lots of profiles such as the Sleep Research Society who are not verified but provide links to their website. After checking out the Sleep Research Society’s website and seeing the different research, advocacy and events they hold I have determined that their Twitter feed provides reliable research outcomes.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is full of images, gifs and videos on virtually any topic. When I looked up sleep facts in the search bar I had 213 search results. I want to help the average user be able to narrow down their searches to information that is reliable and useful. Pinterest is more of a middle-man for individuals looking for advice about sleep. By clicking on the images people have pinned there is often a link that will redirect you to their website. Many of the links lead to people’s personal blogs, which do not always provide information on the blogger. However, the first image I clicked on lead me to Vanessa Rae Romero’s blog called Healthy Living How To where she talks about her personal health issues and hopes to inspire individuals to find healthier habits. Her blog gets personal but also has a lot of helpful habits she has found to personally be successful. Her blog provides real life problems and helpful reviews of products she has found to be beneficial to her. In addition, I came across an image provided by the Bustle, which is a publisher company aimed mostly at millennial women as their audience. Their post called 5 Psychological Tricks for When You Can’t Sleep provides worthwhile tips for individuals having a hard time sleeping. The Bustle is a trustworthy source because they provide credible references to the information they are publishing, such as different University’s research, the Sleep Foundation and even Medical Doctor’s insights.
Ultimately, I want college students to feel like they can find credible information on sleep within the social media sites most already use daily. It is important to look deeper into pages to determine the reliability of the publisher, such as clicking the links provided, searching the author’s name and even making sure the page is verified on Facebook or Twitter. In addition, checking the sources that pages are using it a great tool to determine whether the advice is creditable. Research and helpful information on sleep is all around us, we just need to know how to separate the dependable information from clickbait.