Watching movies or playing video games for too long during the day may also keep you from getting a good night's sleep. Doing these kinds of activities before going to bed can stimulate your brain too much, making it more difficult to rest.

What does 'it' refer to here? Isn't it 'your brain'?

  • 2
    It could be anaphoric referring to "your brain". But I think it's a meaningless dummy pronoun filling the subject position. The meaning is that "rest" is more difficult.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 10:00
  • Compare, "It got dark, making it harder to see." = Dusk came on, making seeing more difficult.
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


it here refers to the situation. - Making it difficult for you to rest. Or Making resting more difficult.

"It" acts as a dummy subject.

  • Actually this is a wrong answer
    – Gerry
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 8:12
  • Still it doesn't refer to you, otherwise you don't need for you anymore. It refers to the state of being, the situation or the environment in which something needs to be done but is hard to do so.
    – Gerry
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 8:22
  • @duc Yes, but the the situation around someone or something, mostly a person. But you are right. Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 8:25
  • 1
    This is actually the right answer. "Dummy it" refers to the existential fact, the "situation".
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 10, 2017 at 10:45
  • 1
    Yeah in this case it's correct. His answer before edited said it refered to you, which was obviously wrong.
    – Gerry
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 11:31

It here refers to brain. You look for hint in the same sentence, try to identify singular noun or compound noun that can be replaced by it in the sense that it needs to rest.

All the singular nouns or compound nouns in the sentence are: (the action of) going to bed and brain. Obviously, the meaning tells you that the brain can't rest if it is stimulated too much by playing video games before going to bed. The action of going to bed cannot rest, but here only the brain can.

EDIT. The best answer chosen by the asker is actually wrong in this sentence meaning, as I explained in the comment section of his/her answer: if it in the example refers to the situation, then the sentence has to be "making it hard for the brain to rest", otherwise you would be saying "making the situation hard to rest", which is meaningless. I am aware of the linguistic phenomenon that sometimes we use it or there to be a dummy subject to fill the sentence structure, however in this case it doesn't function in the same manner.

I highly recommend that the asker unchecks the other person's answer as the best/correct one in order not for other English learners to be biased towards and acquire inaccurate information.

  • You are confused. Rephrase the part "making it more difficult to rest" to "making resting more difficult". It in no way refers to the brain. Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 6:05

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