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Study analyzes bedtime screen use behavior and sleep outcome

A week after the American Psychological Association issued a health advisory regarding social media use in adolescence, the US Surgeon General released a similar advisory on the subject of social media and youth mental health. Both advisories highlight the potential connection between social media usage and inadequate sleep quality among teenagers. Considering these concerns, what specific measures can teenagers and parents adopt to enhance their sleep?


A recent study published in Sleep Health sheds light on screen-related behaviors associated with improved sleep.


''Getting enough sleep is crucial for teenagers because it helps their body and mind grow and develop properly. Our research found that keeping screens outside of the bedroom, turning off device notifications, and avoiding social media use in bed is associated with better sleep among adolescents. If you wake up during the night, don't check your phone or social media."

1.Keep screens outside of the bedroom: A study reveals a 27% higher risk of experiencing difficulty falling or staying asleep when having a TV set or internet-connected device in the bedroom.


2.Turn off the ringer and notifications: Leaving the phone ringer on is associated with a 23% higher risk of sleep troubles compared to turning it off. Disturbances from phone calls, text messages, or emails interrupting sleep were reported by 16.9% of adolescents in the past week.


3.Avoid electronic device usage before sleep: Engaging in activities such as social media, internet chatting, video games, browsing the web, and watching/streaming media while in bed before sleep are all linked to difficulties in falling or staying asleep.


4. Resist using your phone during nighttime awakenings: Approximately one-fifth of adolescents reported using their phone or device after waking up during the night. This behavior is associated with a 34% higher risk of sleep disturbances.


The study involved an analysis of data obtained from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, which comprises 10,280 preteens aged 10-14. This ongoing study is the largest of its kind in the United States, focusing on brain development and child health. Data collection spanned from 2018 to 2020.


During the study, both the adolescents and their parents provided responses regarding sleep patterns, while the preteens themselves reported on their screen and social media usage before bedtime. Findings revealed that 15.5% of preteens experienced trouble falling or staying asleep for several days within the past two weeks. Additionally, 16.9% reported being awakened by phone calls, text messages, or emails while sleeping at least once within the past week. Furthermore, 20.0% acknowledged using their phone or another electronic device if they woke up during the night.


Nagata stated that adolescents might exhibit heightened awareness of phone notifications, promptly waking up upon hearing their phone.

Co-author Kyle T. Ganson, PhD, MSW, an assistant professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, highlighted the challenges of adolescent development, including social pressures, physical changes, and psychological and emotional transitions. Recognizing the significance of social media and smartphones in this developmental phase and being actively involved are vital for parents in supporting their children.



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