Adolescents' use of cell phones after bedtime contributes to poor sleep

Sep 01, 2007

The use of modern means of interpersonal and mass communication has become an essential part of being young. Technology has enabled two people to connect with each other virtually anywhere and at any time, a privilege that, according to new research, is often abused by youngsters and cutting into their sleep time. A study published in the September 1 issue of the journal SLEEP finds that cell phone use after bedtime is very prevalent among adolescents, and its use is related to increased levels of tiredness after one year.

The study, authored by Jan Van den Bulck, PhD, of the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, focused on 1,656 school children with an average age of 13.7 years in the youngest group and 16.9 years in the oldest group.

According to the results, only 38 percent of the subjects never used their cell phones after bedtime. Those using cell phones less than once a month increased the odds of being very tired one year later by 1.8. Those who used it less than once a week were 2.2 times more likely to be very tired. Using it about once a week increased the odds by 3.3, and those who used it more than once a week were 5.1 times more likely to be very tired. Overall, 35 percent of the cases of being very tired were attributed to the use of the cell phone. Use of the cell phone right after bedtime increased the odds of being very tired by 2.2. Between midnight and 3 a.m., the odds were 3.9 times higher, and in those who used it at any time of the night, the odds were 3.3 times higher.

“Parents often worry about the hazards of media use when they think about the time children spend watching TV or listening to music or surfing the Internet,” said Dr. Van den Bulck. “The mobile phone, on the other hand, is usually only seen as a simple communication device, useful in emergency situations. This study shows that parents should be aware of the fact that young people today use the modern means of communication in ways they probably cannot imagine. Communication and staying in touch are important for young people, and they now have the technology to stay ‘connected’ more or less permanently. Taking a mobile phone to your bedroom is not trivial. They spend a lot of time ‘connecting’ to other people, and some of them do this all hours of the night.”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips for adolescents on how to get a good night’s sleep:

-- Keep computers and TVs out of the bedroom. Do not stay up late to talk or text message on the cell phone or surf the Internet so as to cut into your sleep time

-- Follow a consistent bedtime routine.

-- Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.

-- Get a full night’s sleep every night.

-- Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.

-- Do not stay up all hours of the night to “cram” for an exam, do homework, etc. If after-school activities are proving to be too time-consuming, consider cutting back on these activities.

-- Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.

-- Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.

-- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.

-- Get up at the same time every morning.

Experts recommend that adolescents get about 8-9 hours of sleep each night for good health and optimum performance. Parents who suspect that their teen might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their teen’s pediatrician or a sleep specialist.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Explore further: Brave new world for food and health coming, nutrition scientists predict

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

An astronaut's rhythm

Jan 07, 2014

Anyone who has flown long distances will be familiar with the jetlag that comes with travelling across time zones. Our body clocks need time to adjust to different daylight times as high-fliers and frequent ...

Smart sleep analysis

Aug 02, 2013

Sleep disorders are a widespread problem. With the aid of smartwatches, researchers are analyzing sleep movement patterns and assisting doctors with diagnosis and therapy. Burnout and diabetes patients stand ...

Video gaming teens sleep less: study

May 16, 2011

Teens who play a lot of video games are likely to sleep less than the eight to nine hours a night recommended for the age group, researchers said Monday.

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

16 hours ago

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

17 hours ago

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

Infertility, surrogacy in India

17 hours ago

Infertility is a growing problem worldwide. A World Health Organization report estimates that 60-to-80 million couples worldwide currently suffer from infertility.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.