Screen Time linked to Teen Sleep Deprivation

Teens seem to be busier than ever. Their schedules are packed with homework, rigorous sports schedules, extra curricular activities and a social life. If you have a teen in your household, you may notice that they seem to be lacking energy and a bit mopey. They may even complain of being tired all the time. But, their hectic schedules might not be the only thing to blame.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 68.8% of the more than 50,000 high-school students they surveyed slept an “insufficient” amount, less than seven hours, on weeknights. Doctors recommend teenagers, still in their formative years, get about 9.3 hours of sleep per night. Chronic sleep deficits can be dangerous in adolescents; it can impair judgment, increase the risk of car accidents and injury in sports and lead to higher rates of drug and alcohol use.

Recent polls shed some light on what may be the real reason teens are losing sleep.  Here are some eye-opening stats according to the results of a 2006 poll by the National Sleep Foundation:

-Watching television is the most popular activity (76%) for adolescents in the hour before bedtime, while surfing the internet/instant-messaging (44%) and talking on the phone (40%) are close behind.

-Boys are more likely to play video games (40%) while girls are more likely to talk on the phone (51%) in that time.

-Nearly all adolescents (97%) have at least one electronic item – such as a television, computer, phone or music device – in their bedroom. On average, 6th-graders have more than two of these items in their bedroom, while 12th-graders have about four.

From those numbers, as parents, we realize that we probably need to remove the devices from the bedroom.  Which is much easier said than done. Many teens feel that these devices are their lifelines.

The numbers below, also from the National Sleep Foundation, are even more interesting and delve deeper into how much these devices are affecting not only our teens, but everyone that uses them. Basically, the closer to your bedtime you use electronics, the longer it will take you to fall asleep. And, the more screen time you have in one day, the less sleep you will get that night.

-Participants using a computer or a cellphone in the hour before bed were 52% and 48% more likely, respectively, to take more than 60 minutes to fall asleep.

-Before-bed computer or cellphone use increased the likelihood of a sleep deficit of at least two hours by 53% and 35%, respectively.

-Teens were 2.7 times more likely to get less than five hours of sleep with computer use before bed and 1.85 times more likely to have this outcome with cellphone use before bed. Getting less than five hours of sleep was 3.6 times more likely with at least four hours of total daily screen time.

To put it simply, the closer to your bedtime you use electronics, the longer it will take you to fall asleep. And the more time you spend in front of a screen on any given day, the less sleep you will get that night. Checking your Insta account one more time and watching that one last show on Netflix is actually pushing your bedtime back even further than you realize and leading to a much less restful sleep.

Project B3 Tips and Suggestions:
  • Try a family docking system. Charge all electronics together overnight and keep all devices out of the bedrooms.
  • Power down at least 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Turn off all Notifications or silence your devices so it is easier to resist the temptation to check your iPhone.
  • If your child must do homework on a computer, turn down the blue light setting.