Technology and Sleep

Click to see one-page report profile.

Parents need to be vigilant about the amount of sleep their children get each night. In fact everyone in a family needs to be aware that pre-bedtime gadget habits may decrease the quality of nighttime sleep.

Technology gadgets, computers, television sets, even glowing alarm clocks and radios, are interrupting sleep patterns according to a Reuters article, Not Getting Enough Sleep? Turn off Technology. The article reports on the Sleep in America poll (full 76 page report), carried out by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). The poll surveyed 1,508 people, ages 13 – 64. Click on the image at the top left to see a one-page summary of sleep habits for all age groups.

Part of the problem is that people stare at very bright screens just before bed or go to bed with glowing screens surrounding them. Another issue is that people, including adolescents and teens, leave devices on at night while they are sleeping so phone calls and text messages often interrupt sleep. This is risky behavior for everyone, but especially for adolescents who need sleep to learn effectively and grow.

Findings for Students Age 13 – 18 Include

  • 18% report awakening in the middle of the night at least a few times each week for a cell phone call or text message.
  • 77% report using computers and laptops in the hour before going to sleep.
  • 60% report consuming caffeinated beverages to stay awake.
  • 50% report napping on weekdays to cope with their lack of sleep.
  • 50% report getting up between 5:00 and 6:00 AM and going to bed after 10:00 PM.

Safeguarding America’s Sleep quotes Harvard Medical School professor Charles Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., who is also a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. According to Dr. Czeisler,

Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour–making it more difficult to fall asleep. This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need.

The full report PDF is easy to read and filled with charts and graphs that illustrate the findings of the poll. Below are several other news stories about the sleep report.

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