Bedtime texting could be putting teens’ health at risk
In the study, researchers from Seton Hall University found that 62 percent of the 3,139 middle and high school students analyzed used their smartphones in some capacity after going to bed. They also found that nearly 57 percent of the teens were texting, tweeting or messaging before falling asleep.
“One of the most worrisome aspects of our findings is that in addition to affecting the quality and amount of sleep teenagers are getting, bedtime smartphone use seems to be having a negative impact on their level of alertness during the day and on their grades in school,” study co-author Vincent DeBari said in a news release.
The study cited previous research that teens with cell phones send or receive an average of 1,500 texts each month, and 85 percent of teens with cell phones sleep with their phone in or near their bed.
“Teenagers who text at night have their sleep disrupted by incoming texts, and then may feel an overwhelming compulsion to respond to those texts immediately, which can go on for hours,” lead author Dr. Peter Polos said.
The additional stimulation when they should be sleeping can cause a host of problems for teens.
“Other studies have shown that the sleep hormone melatonin is suppressed by the light from electronic devices,” says Dr. Andrea Kane, an Advocate Medical Group pediatrician at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “This can make it more challenging for teens who are practicing excessive smartphone use at bedtime to get a proper night’s sleep. Poor sleep can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression and ADHD.”
Researchers concluded that, given the importance of sleep to a teen’s brain development and learning ability, parents should implement reasonable restrictions on their kids’ bedtime smartphone usage.
Dr. Kane recommends no electronic devices within an hour of bedtime, and says teens should get a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night.
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