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Technology and Sleep

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In a recent study on technology and impact on children’s sleep,  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 television, listened to music and even if they used a computer to study before hitting the sack.

But guess what the biggest culprit of impacting sleep was?  Social networking. Kids who visited social networking sites before bedtime reported sleeping nearly an hour less on school nights compared to those who rarely connected online.   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.

Sleep experts have documented the impact that technology has on kids’ sleep issues and studies have linked sleep deprivation to obesity, depression, elevated blood pressure, mood swings and lower grades.

“The advent of technology has made every age group, but especially teenagers, have difficulties with their sleep.  We’re seeing more sleep-deprivation problems in society as a whole and we’re seeing it more in teenagers,” according to Dr. Nanci Yuan, medical director of the Sleep Center at Lucile Packard’s Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA.  (Reuters study)

“So when a teenager is playing a violent video game regularly in his bedroom, his brain starts to see the room as an entertainment zone rather than a quiet, sleepy environment,” said Dalhousie psychologist Jennifer Vriend, the lead researcher in a study on technology and sleep lost.

The study found that losing just one hour of sleep can negatively affect school performance by impeding memory and making it more difficult for children to solve math problems.  Alternatively, the researchers found that moving bedtime up by an hour makes children calmer and better able to concentrate. (RedOrbit) The Dalhousie University researchers found that even modest differences in sleep duration over just a few nights can have significant consequences for children’s daytime functioning.

Christina Calamaro, a researcher at Nemours/Alfred I DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE who has studied the effect of technology on adolescent sleep, feels that healthcare professionals should do more to educate parents about children’s need for uninterrupted sleep. She stressed the need to unplug from technology at least an hour before lights out. (Reuters)

References

Reuters (2014, Jan. 24) Kids should unplug before sleep, study suggests. Retrieved on March 20, 2014.

RedOrbit Staff. (2013, Nov. 15) Technology in the Bedroom disrupts  Teens’ Sleep. ReOrbit.  Retrieved on April 23, 2014.