Food and Behaviour Research

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03 February 2015 - BBC News - Screen time 'harms teenagers' sleep'

The longer a teenager spends using electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones, the worse their sleep will be, a study of nearly 10,000 16- to 19-year-olds suggests.


Any type of screen use during the day and in the hour before bedtime appeared to disrupt sleep - making it more difficult for teenagers to nod off.

And the more hours they spent on gadgets, the more disturbed their sleep became.

When daytime screen use totalled four or more hours, teens had a 49% greater risk of taking longer than an hour to fall asleep.

These teens also tended to get less than five hours of sleep per night.

Sleep duration went steadily down as gadget use increased.

It may be that playing on electronic devices leaves teens with less time to do other things, including sleep, say the researchers - Dr Mari Hysing and colleagues at Uni Research Health, Bergen.

But it could be that screen time interferes with sleepiness.

Staring at an illuminated screen at bedtime could send the wrong signals to our brain, disrupting our natural body clock making us more alert, they suggest.

Dr Hysing said her findings had implications for the wider population as so many people use these devices.

"We know that sufficient sleep is essential for good physical and mental health. Logging off may be one important step toward securing a good night's sleep."