Screen Time Shown to Reduce Teens' Quality of Sleep

>We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep, especially for kids and adolescents. As the brain continues to develop, young people need lots and lots of sleep. This is especially true of very active teens who must juggle school, sports, clubs, and often a part-time job. Most doctors recommend at least 8 hours of good sleep for teenagers and young adults. But as the popularity of smartphones and other technology continues to rise, the amount of quality sleep that teens are getting is rapidly dropping.

According to a recent Norwegian study, the longer a teenage spends using an electronic device, the worse their sleep will be. The study, which looked at nearly 10,000 teens age 16-19, found that the average girl spends 5.5 hours on a device after school while boys spend an average of 6 hours. Almost all of the participants stated they used their devices shortly before bed and many reported that they usually get five hours or less of sleep per night.

The study found that any screen use during the day and after school can result in poor sleep, although using a device for more than two hours after school poses the highest risk. The more time spent on phones or tablets will create a higher risk; when daytime screen use totaled four or more hours, teenagers had a 49 percent greater risk of taking more than an hour to fall asleep. On the other end of the spectrum, those who used screens less tended to rest better.

Researchers believe that while the excess screen time could lead to the teens having less time for other tasks, it could also be the illuminated screens wreaking havoc. This is especially dangerous around bedtime, as staring at an illuminated screen could send mixed signals to the brain and disrupting our natural internal clock. This theory has been explored since television was first invented, but this recent research shows that prolonged screen time can have a widespread effect on the general population, both kids and adults. Doctors have long tried to dissuade us from looking at our phones right before bed, and it sounds like the same is true for teenagers. This may mean having to lock their phone up at night; if not, they may be missing out on the important building blocks of life.

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