Technology dependence can have negative impact on sleep

A US study has revealed that dependence on electronics like television, mobile phones and computers could be linked to poor sleep habits.

Around 95 per cent of people surveyed by the Washington DC-based National Sleep Foundation (NSF) said they used some type of electronics in the hour before going to bed, with two-thirds admitting they did not get enough sleep during the week.

NSF vice chairman Russell Rosenberg said: "Unfortunately, cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep at night leaving millions functioning poorly the next day.”

Those in the 46-64 year-old age category made up the highest proportion of those watching television every night before going to sleep, while more than a third of 13-18 year-olds and 28 per cent of those aged between 19 and 29 years-old played video games before bedtime.

The NSF added that lack of sleep had a negative impact on work, mood, family, driving habits, sex lives and health.

Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, explained that exposure to artificial light before going to bed can increase alertness and suppress the release of sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

"Technology has invaded the bedroom. This may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported they routinely get less sleep than they need,” Czeisler said.

Even those successfully getting off to sleep can be woken during the night by mobile phones, texts and emails at the expense of a good night’s rest. One in ten children reported that they were woken up by texts.

The most sleep-deprived group were teenagers in the 13-18 year-old category, with 22 per cent describing themselves as "sleepy" compared to just nine percent of those aged between 46 and 64 years-old.

While sleep experts recommend they get 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep, adolescents in the study were averaging only 7 hours and 26 minutes on week nights – meaning they are losing about 50 hours of sleep per month.

"Parents should get these technologies out of the bedrooms of kids if they want them to do well," Czeisler added.

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