Can’t Sleep, Teens? Scientists May Have Figured Out Why

...and you're not gonna like it.

Chances are you go to bed with phone in hand, digging through Instagram feeds or catching up on Twitter before putting it on the nightstand and trying to fall asleep. And trying. And trying...

Blame your electronic devices, according to new research from Norway. And it's not just bedtime usage, as previous studies have found. Daytime usage can also mess with your sleep cycle.

A new study published in BMJ Open collected data on more than 9,800 subjects aged 16-19, and found that the longer teens spend looking at screens throughout the day, the less they sleep that night. That means computers, phones, TVs, tablets and whatever else you're staring at and swiping.


The study's lead researcher, Mari Hysing, concludes in very clear terms that it's the cumulative effect of use throughout the day that builds up to disrupt young people's sleep patterns: "The longer their screen time, the shorter their sleep duration."

Teens who looked at screens for more than four hours per day were 49% more likely to take longer than an hour to fall asleep, versus only 20% more likely for two hours of use. And communicating online for more than a couple hours per day makes it three times more likely you'll sleep for fewer than five hours at night, according to the study.

As for the cause, it's long been suggested that the light emitting from screens screws up our circadian rhythms, but now that daytime use seems to have an effect, researchers believe the devices may be stimulating the nervous system.

On the bright side, maybe this means your phone can replace your coffee fix?


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