screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-8-37-00-pmIn my TV interview this week on ABCNews24 I talked about new research from the UK, which provides solid evidence to say that kids + technology + sleep don’t mix. The research involved 125,000 children over a period of 5 years and found strong evidence that use of devices reduced sleep quantity and quality, as well as increased daytime sleepiness.

With the ever-growing popularity of mobile devices the problem of poor sleep amongst children is likely to get worse.

Here’s a link to the report

Why technology can effect teens’ sleep

  • From a biological perspective, teens develop a resistance to sleep pressure that permits then to stay up later at night and sleep later in the morning (they have a distinct circadian timing). Anyone living with teens will have noticed this. Technology use can exacerbate this due to:
    • Exposure to the artificial light of the screen can further disrupt circadian rhythms
    • Alerts from their phone during the night
    • The online content that teens may engage with at night that are not a calming precursor to sleep
    • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). A child constantly checking their phone at night may be worrying about friends having fun without them, feeling anxious if they did not know what their friends were doing. I know many teenagers who sleep with their laptop open next to them in the bed every night just for this reason!

The effect of tech-interrupted sleep

Inadequate sleep quantity and quality can have an array of detrimental health outcomes that can dull creativity, concentration, social skills.

In the long term it can lead to lead to mental health issues.

Tips for parents and teens

  • Getting organised:
    • Adjust the screen brightness. Many screens can be adjusted so that they have a yellowish tinge at night. Much more calming for night-time use.
    • Plan where to put their device at night; away from the bed is best so that they aren’t disrupted by the light, or tempted to quickly check on a social media alert. Turn off alerts.
  • If FOMO is an issue:
    • Gratitude about our own life essential. Talk with your child about the things that are wonderful about their life. Now ask them to imagine what life without them would be like. This will help them appreciate them and start to put FOMO into perspective.