Kids who regularly plugged into social
networking sites before bedtime reported sleeping nearly an hour less on
school nights than those who rarely connected online, a new study shows.
"Using technology in the bedroom may result in sleep
loss, delays in initiating sleep, daytime sleepiness and more," the
study's lead author, Teresa Arora, told Reuters Health in an email. "In
turn, this may affect daytime performance, particularly at school," Arora,
from Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha, Qatar, said.
Biggest loss of sleep
The researchers found kids ages 11 to 13 slept significantly
less when they frequently communicated on a cell phone, surfed
the Internet, played
video games, watched
to music and even if they used a computer to study before hitting the sack.
Social networking was associated with the biggest loss of
sleep. Those who said they usually connected to friends online before getting
into bed reported sleeping the least – an average of 8 hours and 10 minutes a
night – compared with 9 hours and 2 minutes among those who never connected.
Earlier studies have linked sleep deprivation to obesity,
depression, difficulty regulating emotions and lower grades.
A Chinese study published last month found staying up late
may raise teens' blood
For the current study, the researchers analysed surveys on
sleep and technology habits completed by 738 students at seven randomly
selected schools in the Midlands region of England in 2010.
Burning the midnight oil
Kids who frequently viewed TV before bed were four times
more likely to report waking up several times during the night than
non-viewers, and frequent social networkers were three times more likely to
wake up a lot.
Kids who regularly played video games or listened to music
at bedtime had significantly more difficulty falling asleep, the researchers
reported in Sleep Medicine.
Teenagers' sleep schedules naturally tend to shift as a
result of feeling alert later at night and having trouble
falling asleep. But technology may worsen the tendency to burn the midnight
oil, Arora and her colleagues wrote.
The findings came as no surprise to Dr Nanci Yuan, medical
director of the Sleep Centre at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo
Alto, California. She was not involved in the new study. "The advent of
technology has made every age group, but especially teenagers, have
difficulties with their sleep," Yuan, who also studies sleep disorders at
Stanford University, told Reuters Health.
Sleep a priority
"We're seeing more sleep-deprivation problems in
society as a whole, and we're seeing it more in teenagers. Children from
11 to 13 years old need between 10 and 11 hours of continuous sleep a night for
optimal health, she said.
adolescents shut down all electronics, ideally removing them from the bedroom,
at least one hour, and preferably two, before turning in. "We have to make
sleep a priority as important as good nutrition and exercise," she said.
Christina Calamaro similarly stressed the need to unplug at
least an hour before lights out. She has studied the effect of technology on
adolescent sleep at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in
Wilmington, Delaware but was not involved in the current study.
Calamaro called on healthcare professionals to do more to
educate parents about children's need for uninterrupted sleep. "We need to
teach adolescents boundaries with technology," she told Reuters Health.
"We need to really drive home that message to parents about modelling
sleep behaviour in their home."
bad for kids' sleep
Internet, TV responsible