A recent Norwegian sleep disturbance study of 9,846 16 to 19-year olds has discovered something that is fast becoming fact: exposure to light from TVs, laptops, smartphones and tablet screens affects sleeping patterns and sleep quality.
Teenagers in the study who spent more than four hours per day exposed to screens had a 49% increased risk of falling asleep later and having difficulty in doing so. Their risk of sleeping for under five hours was also increased by three and half times.
The vast majority of participants in the study were exposed to some form of electronic device an hour before bedtime. This has prompted researchers to advise at least an hour of screen free time before sleep, and for parents to be especially alert of the risk to their children’s quality of sleep.
The researchers have highlighted that the effects of using screens close to bedtime may not just be intruding on sleep, but could also be affecting the nervous system and internal body clock. As well as the recommendation to individuals to avoid screen time before bed, the researchers are asking public heath agencies to review their own guidelines. The report concludes that “The results demonstrate a negative relation between use of technology and sleep, suggesting that recommendations on healthy media use could include restrictions on electronic devices.”
Technology has become a permanent part of the everyday human experience, and more proof of its disruptive influence on sleep is coming in with studies such as these.