Are Teen Devices Preventing a Good Night’s Rest?

March 11-17 is Sleep Awareness Week. Vaishal Shah, M.D., weighs in on a recent study that says using devices late in the evening is keeping many teens from getting enough shut-eye.

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CLEVELAND – Growing up, many of us probably remember our parents telling us to turn off the TV and go to bed.

But now, with so many electronic devices at our fingertips, new research is showing that more devices can mean even less sleep for our teens.

Cleveland Clinic’s Vaishal Shah, M.D., did not take part in the study, but said it shows that teens really aren’t getting enough rest.

“Most of the kids get less than seven hours, which is not at all enough for teens,” said Dr. Shah. “Most teenagers need about 8-10 hours of sleep every night.” 

The study examined data from a national survey of U.S. teens and found that in comparison to teens in 2009, teens today are 17 percent more likely to get less than seven hours of shut-eye per night.

Researchers point to the increase in new media screen time that happened during the same time frame as a possible cause.

Dr. Shah said teens are not only missing out on sleep because of hours spent on devices, but also because of the biological effects of using bright light devices close to bedtime.

He said research has shown that bright light, particularly if it’s blue light, that is cast from devices can actually delay the body’s ability to drift off to sleep by delaying the release of melatonin.

Dr. Shah said sleepy teens are not only at risk of under-performing in school, but if they are learning to drive, there is the added danger of drowsy driving.

“They will not perform well at school, activities or sports, but if they’re learning to drive they are sleepy during that as well,” said Dr. Shah. “When this happens, they’re not only putting themself at risk, but they are a risk to others should they go out and fall asleep behind the wheel.” 

Dr. Shah said in the same way that we give ourselves time in the morning to get up and get ready, we should allow ourselves the same time to wind down and prepare to sleep at night.

He recommends keeping teens on a consistent sleep schedule every day with a minimum of 8-10 hours of sleep per night. 

Complete results of the study can be found in Sleep Medicine.

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