Teens Are Missing Vital Sleep Before School Because Of Social Media

tired teen at school

If you are the parent of a teen today, there are some pretty significant differences between how they are being raised on a world with technology. Sometimes it feels like night and day different compared to our childhoods. (We feel you, mama!) Teenagers are very into everything that's happening on their devices, and we can't blame them (we are, too), it's making an impact on their sleep during a crucial time of development in their lives.

Based on new data just revealed, teens who are spending three or more hours a day on social media struggle to fall asleep before eleven in the evening.

The study was completed by by Glasgow University and is the first in-depth analysis that has looked at the impact on sleep from social media and messaging apps, rather than from screen time in a more broad sense.

Published in the BMJ Open, the study looked at the social media usage of 13 to 15-year-olds, comparing the time they typically fell asleep and woke up on school days, versus free days. They did this through a survey of nearly 12,000 adolescents, showing that “very high” users of sites such as Facebook and Instagram were 70 percent more likely to fall asleep late.

But it wasn't just about when these teenagers were falling asleep, the study showed that they are having significant issues with staying asleep and how long it was actually taking them to fall asleep to begin with.

They broke down those surveyed into three different categories: the low users, the average users and the high users. The low users, or teens who spent an hour or less on social media per day counted for one third of those surveyed. The average user, or those who spent one to three hours a day on social media, made up 31.6 percent. And the high users, or those spending three to five hours per day on social media, accounted for 14 percent.

Asian woman using mobile phone on bed
Credit: iStock

“These findings are consistent with the idea that social media displaces sleep: either directly or indirectly,” the authors wrote.

“Direct sleep displacement may be particularly likely on school days, especially for very high users, since limited social media access during school hours means that at least part of this daily time on social media is likely to take place close to bedtime.”

Then obviously falling asleep later in the evening makes it hard for these kids to wake up the following morning. The high and very high social media users claimed to wake after 8am, while the average users reported more about having trouble getting back to sleep and waking during the night.

Also, females were found to spend more time on social media than boys, and to report worse sleep quality.

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