Another week and another article about how screen time affects teens sleep and while the news isn’t new, we welcome this subject being brought continually into the spotlight.
In fact the latest research is so strong, according to the experts, that health watchdogs should overhaul guidelines for electronic device use by youngsters in particular regarding the quantity and timing of electronic media use.
And that’s maybe not a bad idea! Technology has come a long way and we still don’t know the long term effects of what it is doing to sleep. And it’s all new to parents too – who, let’s face it, are as guilty as using their phones/tablets in the hours before bed too!
The latest research, led by Mari Hysing at a regional centre for child health in the city of Bergen, questioned teens about their sleeping patterns, how long they looked at a screen outside of school hours and the type of gadget they used. Those with screen time of more than four hours per day were three-and-a-half times likelier to sleep fewer than five hours a night and were also likelier to need more than 60 minutes to fall asleep (average adult nods off in under 30 minutes).
The problem with using technology is that screen time eats into sleep time.
Typical scenario: you get into bed ready to go to sleep but think about checking Facebook/Twitter or playing a game one more time. Before you know it another 30-60 minutes has passed. But now you’ve stimulated your brain whether that’s from playing a game, or messaging with friends and subsequently you don’t feel sleepy. The light from these smartphones and tablets has also interfered with the internal body clock making it harder to nod off and stay asleep.
Sleep education is so important – for parents and for children – we teach our kids about eating healthy and exercising yet we don’t talk about sleep? And we must. As technology increases and improves, now’s the time to look at your child or teen’s sleep habits. It’s not too late to change.