It’s a disturbing trend from coast to coast: sleep disturbances due to overuse of technology, especially cell phones. And according to researchers the problem is getting exponentially worse. However, it’s also one that can be solved.
A recent study revealed that extreme use of cell phones and computers may be linked to stress, sleep disorders and depressive symptoms. The research also found that sleep difficulties due to text overuse affect men more than women, but both sexes are equally prone to depressive symptoms. In short, those who are drawn to be constantly accessible to mobile phones and other technological devices are more likely to have mental symptoms that inevitably cause sleep problems.
It seems that social media is the major culprit for teens with sleep problems, especially networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Indeed, it’s estimated that one third of teens will develop behavioral and cognitive problems—as well as hyperactivity and impulsivity—later in life due to overuse of tech devices during childhood. And surprisingly, another recent study found that 60 percent of teens concentrate their cell phone use around midnight, with some continuing to communicate well past three a.m.
For adults with sleep disorders, the overuse of tech devices is directly related to that old nemesis of a good night’s sleep: work. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that the more an adult works the less they sleep. Research from the study also concluded that there is a direct correlation between work and tech devices, as those devices allow us to be constantly connected to the same work that is preventing proper sleep. A vicious cycle to say the least.
So what do sleep scientists and physicians recommend for remedying the problem? It’s important to make the bedroom a place conducive to sleep, so it should be a tech-free zone—no phones, computers or even televisions. For parents struggling to curtail their child’s use of tech after light’s out, one researcher even suggests looking up devices in a safe or strongbox. Additionally, it’s recommended that all computer and phone use should be discontinued at least one hour prior to going to sleep, giving our brains a chance to relax to the point where sleep comes quicker and easier.