Teens’ much-needed sleep cut short by high-tech toys

Hanging out with friends and staying up late might not be different from what some teens did 30 years ago, but new research suggests technological distractions that teens have access to today cut into the quality of their much-needed rest, reports the Kansas City Star. A study published in the journal Pediatrics last year showed that teens kept up their activities late into the night. After 9 p.m., 82 percent of the high school students surveyed were watching TV, 55 percent were using a computer online, and 44 percent were talking on the phone—with another 34 percent sending and receiving text messages. Of that group, only 20.6 percent got the 8 to 10 hours of sleep recommended. In a study of teens in Belgium in 2007, 40 percent of the 16-year-olds surveyed reported they were woken up at least once a month by a text message, which correlated with higher levels of daytime sleepiness. Scientists studying teen sleep deprivation have several theories about why exposure to technology cuts into rest, and the research continues, said Amy Wolfson, a sleep researcher and director at the National Sleep Foundation. Some suggest that the media simply take the place of sleep and exercise time. Others point to the arousing content of TV, video games, and music as a sleep deterrent. And a more controversial hypothesis is that bright lights from the screens trick teens’ bodies into delaying the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that helps trigger sleep at night, Wolfson said…

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