Sunday, March 16, 2014

Can't Fall Asleep? Blame Your Phone

Sleep study shows that computers, phones and televisions might be preventing you from getting a good night's sleep.  In fact, two-thirds of Americans are losing sleep to late-night use of electronic devices.

David Cloud, study leader and CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, and a team of researchers, have surveyed Americans in a Sleep in America poll and discovered that two-thirds are losing sleep to devices like computers, televisions and cell phones.

According to Reuters, 95 percent of Americans participating in the study use an electronic device within an hour of going to bed. This is problematic because the use of most technological devices increases alertness and stimulates the brain. In addition, the artificial light from the screens of these gadgets suppress the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. This has led to sleep deprivation in two-thirds of Americans.

The Sleep in America poll shows that the most sleep deprived age group are those ages 13 to 18, who stay up late at night texting before falling asleep. More than half of kids in this age group text an hour before bed most nights, and report an average of seven hours and 26 minutes of sleep per night. Sleep researchers suggest a minimum of nine hours and 15 minutes. 

While this younger age group's use of mobile devices can affect their performance in school, their not the only ones losing sleep over late-night tech use. The survey says 42 percent of those ages 30 to 35 text before bed.

Only 5 percent of baby boomers ages 46 to 64 text before bed, but texting is not the tech of choice for the older age groups. Approximately two-thirds of baby boomers watch television within an hour of going to bed. 

Video games are another late-night activity that impedes on sleep time. More than a third of 13 to 18-year-olds play video games before bed, and 28 percent of 19 to 29-year-olds do the same.

Most people in all age groups are using caffeinated beverages to stay awake during the day. According to the survey, each person drinks about three 12-ounce beverages per day. Instead of using caffeinated drinks to get through the day, the National Sleep Foundation suggests going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day in order to create a normal sleep schedule that does not include computer or phone use. Also, NSF recommends turning off electronics an hour before bed, exercising regularly, and only exposing yourself to bright light early in the morning in order to receive a better night's sleep.

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