A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 96% of teenagers between 15 and 17 age bring tech devices to the bedroom. Also, three in every four teenagers use some technology in the bed. On average, an adolescent uses electronic devices for about nine hours every day.
The use of electronic devices is everywhere today, including schools and colleges. While it's good to be digitally optimized, the usage is significantly increasing, which may not be good. Sleep Science experts say the increasing use of these devices causes blue light emission affecting the sleep-wake cycle.
There's an estimation of two in three children who sleep less than the required amount a teenager should blue light from devices is the reason. Not only sleep deprivation, but consumption of excessive blue light also causes other mental and health issues.
Screen Time Before Bed Affecting the Sleep-Wake Cycle
The sleep-wake cycle in humans follows a circadian rhythm, which takes its cue from sunlight. That's why our body is more alert during the day, and as the night falls, we feel sleepy. As the night continues, our body starts to produce a hormone called melatonin that induces sleep.
Electronic devices like computers, laptops, smartphones, television, and others emit blue light similar to sun rays. The emission makes our body think that it's still daytime deceiving us from sleeping. The body becomes more alert, and when you try to sleep, it becomes more challenging because of extra blue light consumption at night.
The body starts to produce less melatonin, and the natural sleep-wake cycle is disturbed. Thus, it becomes harder to fall asleep as much time you spend in front of the screen at night. When you don't sleep enough, it could even cause insomnia.
Screen Time Causing Insomnia in Teenagers
The connection between screen time and insomnia symptoms is directly proportional to each other. The delay of melatonin release pushes bedtime, keeping you awake, and leads to poor sleep quality. When bedtime is delayed, it can cause drowsiness the following day. Most teenagers have a strict schedule because of school and other activities. The performance goes down, and it becomes hard for them to concentrate.
When teenagers sleep late consistently and try to catch up during the weekends, it affects their circadian rhythm. Sleep Science experts suggest that young adults have extra-sensitive eyes because of their capability for blue light intake. This reality makes it more crucial for children and adolescents to reduce their screen time.
Apart from suppressing melatonin production, more screen time also affects diet and sleep schedule. For example, watching something violent or scary makes the body more alert to surroundings. Apart from using a smartphone directly, running a TV in the background can also cause sleep deprivation. This phenomenon is known as passive technology and is harmful too.
There's a debate among professionals regarding screen time causing insomnia or sleepless nights leading to screen time. We can say that more screen time, negative emotions, and less sleep interact and cause unhealthy behaviors. These factors are, in turn, directly linked to depression. A study says excessive smartphone use is also connected to anxiety and depression to make things more complicated.
Consequences of Insomnia in Teenagers
Sleep deprivation and insomnia can cause various problems among teenagers like academic performance, mood swings, negative emotions, anxiety, and being violent for no reason. Other issues caused due to sleep deprivation include problems with peers, depression, a weak immune system, and suicidal thoughts.
Increases screen time and sleep loss can also lead to obesity. Extensive changes in body weight can be seen when screen time is taking exercise period. Also, most teenagers love to drive, and sleepless driving is a significant risk.
Tips to Control Screen Time Before Bed
In today's world, teenagers need to have screen time for academic and other purposes. Thus, you don't have to put teens into a strict schedule that could make them unhappy and distant from you. Instead, create a family media plan. For example, saying no to technology at the dinner table and calling it "family time."
The plan could provide many benefits apart from giving family time. The schedule could include time for homework, exercise, and sleep. Teenagers get excited at the thought of creating their own guidelines. Allow them to sit with you and make the family plan.
Below are other ways to control screen time before bed and decrease it for the whole day gradually:
- Setting up boundaries for leisure and educational screen time.
- Create sleep timings as per their age. For example, teenagers need eight to ten hours of sleep, so create a schedule accordingly.
- Talking about screen curfew and decrease usage during the day and before bedtime to promote better sleep.
- Create a spot for charging and, if possible, keep it away from their bedroom.
- Talk openly about the adverse effects of screen time. Give them other options to engage like socializing, homework, sports, other activities that don't need electronic devices, and family time.
- Putting teenagers to sleep could get hard. Thus, include habits of reading.
- Follow some sleep hygiene routines like keeping the bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
Other things like keeping the bedroom free of screens also help. Give them a study to use laptops and other technology devices. This gives the brain a sense of feeling that the bedroom is only for winding down and sleeping. Also, get them a mattress that supports and comforts their body in the best way possible.
If you're not sure how then visit a mattress store like Mancini's Sleepworld and get the best beds for teens. Their sleep consultants have immense experience, and the mattress store has 35 locations. Also, their latest technology, known as SleepMatch, gives calculated mattress options depending on the body type.
Call and book your appointment at the nearest Mancini's Sleepworld store if you're in Northern California. You'll also get many offers and discounts on visiting the store. With almost every possible brand available at stores, you're bound to find your ideal mattress.