nighttime smartphone user

Broadband internet access linked to sleep deprivation, study finds

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People with broadband internet access are suffering from sleep deprivation more than those who are not as connected, according to a new study.

About 200,000 working days are lost in Germany every year due to insufficient sleep, with an economic loss of $60bn, or about 1.6 per cent of its GDP, according to a 2016 report.

Researchers from Bocconi University in Milan found that access to broadband internet is one of the causes of such sleep deprivation.

Exploiting the fact that the deployment of broadband in Germany over the years was dependent on technical and historical data, they linked information on broadband access to surveys where individuals report their sleep duration.

The researchers concluded that access to high-speed internet reduces sleep duration and sleep satisfaction in individuals that face time constraints in the morning for work or family reasons.

“Individuals with DSL access tend to sleep 25 minutes less than their counterparts without DSL internet. They are significantly less likely to sleep between seven and nine hours, the amount recommended by the scientific community, and are less likely to be satisfied with their sleep,” said Professor Francesco Billari, who worked on the study.

The authors found that the loss of sleep is largely driven by individuals that face time constraints in the morning and by the use of electronic devices in the evening (not by their use throughout the day).

“Digital temptations may lead to a delay in bedtime, which ultimately decreases sleep duration for individuals who are not able to compensate for later bedtime by waking up later in the morning,” Billari said.

The temptations individuals are prone to vary according to age, the research found.

Among teenagers and young adults (aged 13-30), there is a significant association between insufficient sleep and time spent on computer games or watching TV or videos in the evening, while for older adults (31-59) the correlation is with the use of PCs and smartphones.

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