"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,
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 television, listened 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 pressure (see Reuters Health story of December 17, 2013
For the current study, the researchers analyzed surveys on sleep and
technology habits completed by 738 students at seven randomly
selected schools in the Midlands region of England in 2010.
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 Center at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo
Alto, California. She was not involved in the new study.
[to top of second column]
"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
"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. She
recommended adolescents shut down all electronics, ideally removing
them from the bedroom, at least one hour, and preferably two, before
"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 modeling sleep behavior in their home."
online Dec. 16, 2013.
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